There could be a silent killer lurking in your home. It’s not a villain from a horror movie or a creepy creature that crops up every Halloween; it’s your own skin. Skin cancer can lurk unnoticed until it has a deadly hold on you. But as with any fright, a little preparation is the key to fighting it off.
Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer, affecting 1 million patients annually. But not all skin cancers are created equal. There are three major types of skin cancers:
- Basil Cell Carcinoma: The most common type of skin cancer. This cancer grows on the exposed part of the skin in response to UV exposure. It typically will not spread to other parts of the body, and can be cured if caught early.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: The second most common type of skin cancer. Found on parts of the body with sun exposure, it can also spread to bones, tissues, and nearby lymph nodes. Easy to treat if caught early, but harder to treat once it spreads.
- Melanoma: The least common type of skin cancer, but the most dangerous. An aggressive skin cancer, melanoma often spreads to other parts of the body and can be fatal if not treated early.
Moles, skin growths, and and colored spots are usually nothing to worry about, but atypical moles can be cause for concern. Regular self-checks are the key to catching skin cancer early. When deciding whether to follow up with a doctor about a mole, look for these signs:
- Asymmetry: The two halves to not match.
- Border: Benign moles have smooth edges, but malignant moles are likely to have uneven or scalloped edges.
- Color: Malignant moles often have multiple colors (colors may include white, red, or blue in addition to brown, tan, or black)
- Diameter: Moles larger than a pencil eraser should be examined by your doctor.
- Evolving: If the size, shape, or color of a mole begins to change, make an appointment with your physician.
Moles don’t need to be something to fear. Check your moles regularly, and always contact a certified plastic surgeon to remove any skin cancer threats before they get worse.
For more information on skin cancer and mole removal, call Dr. Brantner’s office.