Skin Cancer: The Most Common Cancer in the U.S.

By Buffalo Medical Group | January 31 2018 | Doctor Tips

It is estimated that nearly 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and that number only continues to rise.

It is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., but it also has an extremely high survival rate – when caught in early stages. Our dermatology team wants to help you prevent against skin cancer, by making sure you know the right steps to take to prevent it, how to identify skin cancer, and the risk factors associated.

Preventing Skin Cancer:

  • Wear sunscreen: It’s important to apply sunscreen daily. Just one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double your chance of developing melanoma – but even if you’ve gotten a bad sunburn before, you should still continue to wear sunscreen. Many people think “the damage has already been done,” but this is not the case.
  • Use extra caution near snow, water, or sand: These intensify the suns reflection, and can increase your chance of getting sunburned. You can also burn when it is cold out – so whether you’re sitting on the beach, or going for a walk outside during the winter, you should wear sunscreen, and be sure to re-apply every 2-3 hours.
  • Examine your skin: Look for any abnormal marks, moles, lesions or bumps. If you notice something new, make note of it. It is important to watch for changes in these, as it may be a sign of skin cancer.
  • Stay covered: Staying in the shade, or covering your skin by wearing a hat or clothing, helps reduce UV exposure from the sun, and avoid sunburns.
  • Avoid tanning beds: Exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet (UV) light can be extremely dangerous. Approximately 95% of melanoma cases are attributed to UV exposure.

What to look for:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): BCC typically looks like open sores, or red/pink patches. Look for non-healing sores or scaly areas. Abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the outermost layer of the skin.
  • Melanoma: This is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. These cancerous growths (most commonly caused by UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds), triggers mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. To identify melanoma, remember the ABCDEs:
    • A – Asymmetrical in shape
    • B – Border – Has notched or scalloped boarders
    • C – Color – Variations of different colors within the same growth, Melanomas are most commonly black or brown
    • D – Diameter – Is typically larger than a pencil eraser (although can be smaller when they are first identified)
    • E – Evolving – These spots typically change in size, color and shape over time. A growth that is changing needs to be evaluated.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): SCC looks like scaly red patches, can crust or bleed, and may even be open sores. Look for non-healing sores or scaly areas. SCC is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that arise in the squamous cells, which are the skin’s upper layers.

What to do if you think you may have skin cancer:

If you suspect you may have skin cancer, it is  important to contact your dermatologist to schedule an appointment. Visit our dermatology page to get more information on our dermatologists, or call 716.630.1102.