The most common of all cancers, more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year. While skin cancer is no small ordeal, it is the most easily treated cancer and is extremely preventable if precautions are taken.
Worcester Dermatology Associates and Chelmsford Dermatology are committed to providing patients with both the treatments and information that they need to maintain healthy, beautiful skin at all stages of life. If you’d like more information about our practice or are interested in scheduling a skin care consultation, contact us today.
Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer occurs in three different variations: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Squamous cell carcinoma forms in the uppermost layer of the epidermis, and typically appears as a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface. This form is incredibly easy to treat and rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
Like squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma rarely metastasizes to other areas of the body. Basal cell carcinoma manifests itself as a pearly or waxy bump, or a flat, flesh-colored, scar-like lesion. It forms in the middle layer of the epidermis.
Melanoma is the last and most dangerous type of skin cancer. If caught early, it is relatively easy to treat; if left alone, it can spread to other areas of the body and become difficult to get rid of. Melanoma manifests itself in a number of different ways that can be identified with the acronym ABCD:
- Asymmetry: The mole is larger on one side than the other, or is not round or oval in shape.
- Border: The border of the mole is blurred, ragged, or notched.
- Color: The pigmentation of the mole is not uniform, with shades of black and tan present. Blue and red tones are also common.
- Diameter: The mole is larger than 6 mm (the size of a pencil eraser), or begins to increase in size.
If you have one or more moles that exhibit any of these traits, you may have melanoma and should have your skin examined as soon as possible.
Preventing Skin Cancer
While skin cancer is common in the United States, it is fortunately also extremely preventable. Undergoing regular skin checks and wearing a daily sunscreen can dramatically decrease your chances of developing skin cancer.
Individuals with the following risk factors are particularly prone to developing skin cancer, and should take extra precautions to protect themselves:
- Fair skin
- History of severe sunburns
- Family history of skin cancer
- Large number moles
People that live in a sunny or high-altitude climate should also take special care to make sure their skin is protected from the sun on a daily basis.
If you suspect that you have skin cancer or would just like to schedule a skin examination appointment, contact Worcester Dermatology Associates and Chelmsford Dermatology today.