Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and estimates state that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. While melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, it is also important to monitor for the more common and less serious non-melanoma skin cancers.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common non-melanoma skin cancer. It typically develops in individuals with fair complexion and usually affects sun exposed areas, most commonly the face. Basal cell carcinomas often look like a pimple or a small crusted bump that bleeds and/or fails to heal. These lesions can cause significant destruction of the affected area and should be removed promptly.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common non-melanoma form of skin cancer. Like basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas typically develop in individuals with fair complexion and usually affect sun exposed areas. They can appear suddenly and grow rapidly and are more common in elderly individuals. Squamous cell carcinomas are usually crusted thick bumps and may be tender and/or painful. In addition to causing destruction of the affected area, squamous cell carcinomas have the potential to metastasize and should be treated promptly.
Protecting Yourself Against Skin Cancer
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher every day and SPF 30 or higher for prolonged outdoor activities.
- Avoid direct sunlight for long periods, particularly between the hours of 10 am and 4 PM.
- Examine your skin monthly for growths, discoloration, or other changes in appearance.
- Schedule a professional skin exam once a year.
If you are concerned about a growth or discoloration on your skin, have it evaluated by one of the qualified dermatologists at Dermatology Associates Medical Group. Please call 310-274-9954 to schedule a consultation.