As summer approaches, a topic that is on the lips of dermatologists everywhere is skin cancer. This type of cancer currently outnumbers all others, affecting one in five Americans and killing thousands every year – and that number reflects non-melanoma skin cancers only.
What is heartbreaking about the number of annual skin cancer deaths is that this disease is preventable. UV exposure is the identified cause in approximately 80 to 90 percent of diagnosed cases. Additionally, early intervention can make an enormous difference in the prognosis of most skin cancers.
The staff at Riverside Medical Arts is committed to active participation with patients through which the number of skin cancer cases can be decreased. There are three distinct steps to skin cancer prevention. These are:
- Practice sun-safety. This means wearing appropriate sunscreen and seeking shade during peak hours of sunlight. Indoor tanning should also be avoided.
- Learn the art of self-examination. The more familiar you are with your own skin, the more quickly you will be able to notice a suspicious growth. Any change that occurs in a growth or mole should be evaluated by your dermatologist.
- Have an annual skin cancer screening. Professional skin cancer screenings have led to a fifty-percent reduction in melanoma deaths, according to a study found in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
What are we Looking for?
During self-examinations and professional skin cancer screenings, the goal is to identify abnormalities in the skin. This may sound difficult, especially if you have quite a few moles, like most people. However, certain characteristics have been identified as suspicious. These include:
- A marked change in color, size, or texture
- Large diameter, ¼ inch across or more
- Jagged or irregularly shaped edges
- Any new mole or growth (which is not a new mole, but a sign of sun damage)
- Itching, bleeding, oozing, crusting, or painful growths
- Sores that will not heal
When in doubt about the appearance of a growth on your skin, your best plan of attack is not to “wait and see” but to see right now. Schedule a visit at Riverside Medical Arts for your annual skin cancer screening.