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Wellness: Understanding Skin Cancer

As the most common cancer in the United States, skin cancer is diagnosed over 5.4 million times a year, with many individuals being diagnosed with multiple spots. Of the 5.4 million, about 1% will die due to skin cancer.

Most commonly diagnosed for those over 50, skin cancer results from a combination of extended sun exposure, living longer, and better detection of the different types of skin cancer. Nevertheless, skin cancer affects everyone no matter the age.

Skin cancer comes in many forms including:

 

Over exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is a major risk factor, since they often damage the skin’s DNA, resulting in the start of cancer formation. Any UV exposure can cause damage to the skin, whether it be tanning beds, tanning lamps or the sun itself.

However, nearly all skin cancers can be treated if found early enough. It is important to take note of skin that may have lumps, bumps, spots, sores, or other marks that are new or recently changed. If a spot is worrisome, it is better to be precautious and get it checked, than to wait.

Regular self-examination of the skin, in a full-length mirror after a bath/shower, can make you aware of any irregularities. Learning the patterns of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks can help guide a self-exam. Do not forget to check between toes, under hair, and under armpits for hiding skin irregularities. For a helpful step-by-step process on self-examination click here.

To view some examples of what skin cancer may look like, check out the American Cancer Society’s page by clicking here.

Source: Cancer.org