Increased Risk for Skin Cancer
Extensive Sun Exposure
Family History of Skin Cancer
Tanning Bed Use
Abnormal or Changing Moles
Decreased Risk for Skin Cancer
Daily use of sunscreen, SPF 30+
Wearing Hats or Protective Clothing
Use of Sunglasses
Annual Skin Exams for Early Detection
Self-Exams at Home
Skin cancer is the most prevalent of all cancers. It is estimated that more than one million Americans develop skin cancer every year. Sun avoidance is the best defense against skin cancer. Over exposure to sunlight (including tanning) is the main cause of skin cancer especially when it results in sunburn and blistering.
There are 3 major types of skin cancer:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Our doctors provide regular comprehensive skin exams of all skin surfaces for malignant and premalignant lesions. Education and preventative measures are also discussed.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is very common with over 1 million new cases diagnosed annually in the United States alone. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common types of skin cancer and are usually caused by long-term, cumulative exposure to the ultraviolet radiation that is part of sunlight. It is for this reason that the American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation recommend sun prevention measures. These organizations strongly recommend a sunscreen that protects against both UVA (Ultraviolet A) and UVB (Ultraviolet B) radiation and has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30. These should be applied daily to all skin. This is especially important for people who have been treated for skin cancer.
Once a person is diagnosed with skin cancer, they have a 50% chance of having another one over the next 5 years. Self-skin exams should be performed at home, and a dermatologist should perform a skin check at least once each year, every year, for the rest of your life. Although it is important to get vitamin D, this can be accomplished safely through a healthy diet and vitamin supplements rather than sun exposure.
There are other, less common causes of basal or squamous cell carcinomas. These include exposure to carcinogens such as certain petroleum-derived chemicals, or arsenic, which is occasionally present in well-water and was historically present in insecticides. Chronic immunosuppression (decreased functioning of the immune system) can also lead to the development of skin cancer. This occurs most commonly when a person takes medications after accepting an organ transplant. Skin cancer sometimes develops in skin that was injured either by a thermal burn or a radiation treatment. A long-standing, non-healing wound may occasionally progress to skin cancer over time. There are genetic syndromes that lead to the early and frequent development of skin cancers, as well.
Where can I find more information on Skin Cancer?
The following websites are excellent sources of information related to the causes, prognosis and treatment options for patients with skin cancer:
Skin Cancer Screening
We offer skin cancer screening services in our office. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to wear sunscreen. Visit our office to find the best sunscreen for your specific activities and needs. If you have never had your skin checked or have specific areas of concern, call our office today!