Skin Cancer Awareness Month: The Signs to Look For

by Krista Davis on May 21, 2012

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, do you know the signs to look for a possible skin cancer related problem? The only one I can easily remember is to look for changes in moles, due to a family history of precancerous growths starting this way.

There are a variety of types of skin cancer; melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma or a few of the most common. These cancers often start as changes in a person’s skin, new growths, or precancerous lesions. Any precancerous lesion or growth doesn’t always become cancerous, but there is a chance of it advancing to that stage.

Two types of precancerous conditions I wasn’t familiar with are Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis) and Actinic Cheilitis (Farmer’s lip).  Solar Keratosis is small scaly dry patches commonly found on the head, neck, or hands. While Farmer’s lip is a scaly patch or persistent roughness common on the lower lip. If both are untreated and advance to cancerous stages, squamous cell carcinoma is likely to occur.

Signs of Skin CancerAs I mentioned earlier, changes in moles can be a sign of possible skin cancer. Normally moles are flat or raised with a smooth surface. Atypical moles that need to be looked at by a doctor or dermatologist are irregularly shaped, have many colors, have a ragged, blurry, or irregular border, may itch or bleed, and are larger in diameter than a pencil eraser. It is not common to acquire a mole after early adulthood; and an individual’s moles and freckles should mostly look similar to one another.

When looking for skin cancer prevention, you should check your entire body once a month in all areas, including hidden areas such as scalp, neck, groin, bottoms of feet, and between fingers and toes. Have a partner help you if needed. Men should pay close attention to their backs and women to their lower legs, since these are common areas for precancerous formations.

People who are in higher need of skin cancer prevention are people with fair skin, blonde or red hair, and blue or green eyes. Also, if you have many large and irregularly shaped moles it is beneficial to consult a dermatologist. Other increased risks include people with a family history of skin cancer, a history of excessive sun exposure or blistering sunburns (even during childhood), living at high altitudes or with year-round sunshine, and people who are undergoing or have undergone radiation treatment. Even if you don’t match these signs, being aware of the condition of your skin and taking steps in skin cancer prevention is important for everyone. Skin cancer affects all races and ages.

References:

“Precancerous Skin Lesions and Skin Cancer Slideshow”

http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/ss/slideshow-skin-lesions-and-cancer

Next Health Tip: Preventing Skin Cancer – Sunscreen Rules and Tips

 

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Written by Krista Davis

Krista Davis

Krista is a self-proclaimed “health nut” and eco-friendly enthusiast.

Series NavigationPreventing Skin Cancer: Sunscreen Rules and Tips >>
Preventing Skin Cancer: Sunscreen Rules and Tips
Natural Skin Care: Oatmeal, Honey, Sugar, and Olive Oil Skin Scrub

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