Although skin cancer is preventable, it continues to be the most common cancer in Canada. Today is World Melanoma Day and doctors are warning people to pay more attention to their skin.
Dr. Jason Rivers, with the Pacific Derm (Vancouver), explains how to stay safe. It first begins with prevention and knowing a few risk factors.
Some of the risk factors are: having pale skin, many moles, blond or red hair, people with someone in the family with skin cancer or people that use a tanning bed.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are three types of skin cancer, two of them are more common than the third one – melanoma skin cancer, which is the least common.
Melanoma can be deadly, and it can have the shape and size of a mole, it can look like a brown or black freckle, and it can change color. These spots can be found on the legs of women or the men’s backs.
The other two types of skin cancer are basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer. The first one looks like a firm bump, with a flesh-like color or red, it often has a pearly border, or it can bleed, heal and then reappear. Squamous cell skin cancer is a thick bump, red and scaly, or it can look like a wart.
How to Spot Melanoma
Dr. Jason Rivers explains how you can spot melanoma:
“A spot that is more irregular than the other spots, it’s darker than the other spots or may have multiple colours, it may be growing faster than other spots. These are things you should look at. For men, the most common area that we see melanoma is on the back.”
Skin cancer can be deadly, and symptoms include pain and scarring. Doctors recommend using sunscreen with at least 30 SPF, wear a hat, do not directly expose to sun rays or use tanning beds.
Treating Skin Cancer
Treatments for basal or squamous cell skin cancer are medications like creams. In some cases, doctors will remove the skin cancer through surgical intervention, electrodesiccation and curettage, photodynamic therapy or radiation.
In cases of melanoma skin cancer, the only procedure is surgical removal.
When the growth of skin cells overdevelop and get uncontrollable, skin cancer develops. It can appear in places exposed to the sun, like the face, neck, arms, and legs. Whoever has had too much sun for long periods of time (years) is at an increased risk of getting skin cancer.
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