If warning signs of skin cancer were staring you right in the face, would you recognize them? Knowing what to look for when it comes to your skin can give you a good idea of when you may need to visit your Athens, GA Dermatologist.
There are three types of skin cancer. The least malignant and most common is called basal cell carcinoma. This type of cancer begins as a small raised bump that can develop a crusty plaque with a slightly elevated, pearly border. Over 30% of all Caucasian people will get this type of cancer in their lifetime.
The cancer lesions occur most often on sun-exposed areas of the face, back and arms. It can also appear as a flat sore that does not heal properly. Sometimes the spot will develop a crust that will shed and then form another crust on the surface.
Basil cell carcinoma is relatively slow developing and metastasis seldom occurs before it is discovered. It is most often treated with minor surgery or local applications of freezing.
Squamous cell carcinoma is different in appearance from the basal type because the blood vessels are not visible. The lesions are red and scaly. They often appear as small rounded elevations on the head, scalp, ears, nose and lower lip.
It tends to grow rapidly and metastasizes into deeper tissues and the lymphatic system. If it is caught early, your Dermatologist may recommend the lesions be treated by freezing them, with local surgical removal, or radiation therapy.
Malignant melanoma is the most dangerous and least common skin cancer. It is highly metastatic and resistant to forms of chemotherapy. It accounts for approximately 5% of all types of skin cancers.
The lesions are characterized by dark patches on the skin that can range from black, brown or discolored areas. Malignant melanoma is a result of the total amount of lifetime damage to the melanocytes in the dermis of the skin.
This damage is directly related to repeated overexposure to the UV rays of the sun. Because this type of cancer can often be fatal, the key to surviving is early detection. The chance for survival is poor if the lesions are over 4mm in thickness.
There is an easy way to remember how to check for the early warning signs for malignant melanoma. The A-B-C-D-E Rule!
A - Asymmetry of any pigmented lesion: Meaning that the two sides of the pigmented spot or mole do not match up to each other.
B - Border irregularity: the borders of the lesion show indentions or notches and are indistinct
C - Color: The pigmented spot contains several colors at one time. This includes black, brown, tan, red and blue tones. Sometimes even white spots are noticeable.
D - Diameter: The spot is larger than 4 mm in diameter. This would be approximately the size of a pencil eraser.
E - Elevation: Any noticeable change in the height of the lesion should be watched and reported to your Dermatologist right away.
Becoming familiar with the different skin cancer types can help you to identify warning signs of potential problems and let you take care of them. Do keep in mind that this is a basic guide and self-diagnosis via internet article is just not really possible. If you notice a change in appearance or behavior of your skin contact your local Athens, GA Dermatologist to have it examined right away.
By Ryan Burns
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