Skin Cancer is the most prevalent of all cancers. It is estimated that more than one million Americans develop skin cancer every year. Over exposure to the sunlight including tanning is the main cause of skin cancer especially when it results in sunburn and blistering. Other less important factors include repeated medical and industrial x-ray exposure, scarring from disease and/or burns, occupational exposure to such compounds as coal and arsenic, and family history. Fair-skinned people who sunburn easily are at particular high risk for skin cancer.
The most effective preventive method is sun avoidance. Seek shade between the hours of 10:00am to 4:00pm especially when your shadow is shorter than you are. Wear light-colored, tightly woven, protective clothing, and wide-brimmed hats and apply sunscreens with a SPF of at least 15.
Early detection is the surest way to a cure. If any growth, mole, sore, or skin discoloration appears suddenly or begins to change, see Dr. Rothfeld. Already mentioned, are actinic keratoses mostly found on the face, lower arms, and the backs of the hands of mostly faired-skinned individuals who have had significant sun exposure.
Small fleshy bumps and nodules most often found on the head, neck and hands may be Basal Cell Carcinoma, another form of skin cancer. Seldom found in African-Americans, it is mostly found in faired-skinned persons. These tumors do not grow quickly and left untreated, they bleed, crust over, heal, and then the cycle begins again.
Red scaly patches or bumps can be indications of Squamous Cell Carcinoma. It is the second most common skin cancer found in fair-skinned persons. Usually found on the rim of the ear, the face, the lips, and mouth. It is rarely found in dark-skinned persons. This cancer can metastasize, but if caught early can be treated and cured in 95% of the time.
The most deadly of all skin cancers, malignant Melanoma it is characterized by asymmetric spots or bumps on the skin, irregular borders, and non-uniform pigmentation where shades of brown, black, and tan are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue add to the mottled appearance and the width is greater than the size of a pencil eraser. Any growth of a mole should be seen by Dr. Rothfeld.
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