SKIN CANCER, KNOW THE FACTS
Posted on September 22 2018
My oldest son who is about to turn the big twenty-one, approached me a little over a month ago concerned about a small bump he found on his side. I inspected it and at the time it just looked like a little raised AK (Actinic Keratoses) these are small solar bumps that appear on the skin and are considered the beginning development of skin cancer. There are several treatment options to help slow the progression of these which I will discuss further in this article. Two months have now lapsed and last week he approached me again only this time it was a big surprise as it is now triple the size and the color has blackened. He does have a doctor appointment next week! I felt that I needed this blog to reach as many people as possible as we can never be reminded enough on this topic and the importance of this topic. Below I give the facts to different types of skin cancers and please share this blog to anyone you care about. It very well could save a life.
ACTINIC KERATOSES (AK) Also called solar keratoses. Considered the beginning and earliest stage of skin cancer and are slow to develop. These are usually small, scaly spots found commonly on the face, neck, ears, and lower arms, and the back-side of hands. These are mostly common among very fair-skinned who have had significant sun exposer/damage.
TREATMENT OPTIONS: Your dermatologist may treat these by freezing, lasers such as IPL, Dermabrasion, topical chemotherapy , or he/she may recommend a series of light to medical grade chemical peels to help retard the growth of these cancer cells. If the AK's progress to advanced stages you may require a more extensive treatment. Please always remember that Sunscreen is your friend and your skin care professional should always recommend an SPF of 30 and nothing less. Please remember that Sunscreen DOES expire and will need to be replaced and purchased every year.
BASEL CELL CARCINOMA: This is the most common type of skin cancer. It's common to see this cancer on the forehead, neck, and hands. It appears as either a red patch or a flesh colored bump. No part of the body is off limits however so keep a watchful eye and get your regular head to toe check ups. This form of skin cancer primarily targets fair skinned individuals and is very rare to find on darker Fitzpatrick levels. Basel cells are slow to grow as they can take months to years before one would be concerned. Left untreated this cancer will often bleed and crust over, then heal and repeat its cycle. This cancer can even extend below the skin to the bone and nerves causing considerable local damage.
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA: The second most common form of skin cancer and again found typically in fair skinned people. It's commonly found on the face, lips, and mouth and the edge of ears. This cancer can appear as a bump that is scaly and red. Unlike basal cell carcinoma, this form of cancer can metastasize so early detection and treatment are essential.
MALIGNANT MELANOMA: The deadliest form of all skin cancers. Melanoma begins in the melanocytes. These cells are what produce melanin which makes the skin tan. These cells usually will continue to produce melanin, and this cancer appears in mixed shades of tan, brown, red, white, and black. Melanoma can appear suddenly. It can also appear in or near a mole. Any changes in a mole should always be followed up with your dermatologist as soon as possible as melanoma can be removed while it's still in the curable stage. Try to avoid sunburns and know your family history, as this form of skin cancer can be due to heredity. Warning signs include: Changes in a mole, scaling, bleeding, any oozing, spread of pigment from the border of a mole onto other skin, and any pain, tenderness or itching.
Please remember the ABCDE rule: Asymmetry (one half of the mole doesn't match the other), Border irregularity, Color that is not uniform, Diameter greater than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser), and Evolving size, shape or color.
Image credits: universityhealthnews.com