Over one million Americans develop skin cancer every year. The vast majority of skin cancer is caused by over-exposure to the ultraviolet radiation from the sun; even so, fewer than one-third of adults, adolescents, and children regularly use sun protection. Statistics like these emphasize the importance of patient education regarding skin cancer awareness and the importance of preventative measures to reduce exposure to the harmful rays of the sun.
Patients at the greatest risk for developing skin cancer are those who have fair skin, blonde or red hair, and blue or green eyes. Regardless of risk factors, however, it is recommended that all patients use sunscreen daily and minimize exposure to the sun.
Some common skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These common types grow slowly and rarely spread beyond the skin. These are non melanomas, easily curable, and rarely life threatening. Squamous cell carcinoma is the more aggressive of the two, and is more inclined to spread, whereas basal cell carcinoma is the slowest growing and accounts for nearly 3 out of 4 skin cancers.
Melanoma is a potentially aggressive and life-threatening cancer. It can start in places such as a preexisting mole or birthmark. As it is not hard to spot on the body, it can usually be cured if treated early. Melanoma grows faster than any other type of skin cancer and can unfortunately spread beyond your skin to other parts of your body if not detected in time.
From the spectrum of early precancerous lesions, like actinic keratoses, to more concerning skin cancers, such as melanoma, we want our patients to be as informed as possible about their condition and treatment options. The discussion below outlines the facts about the most common forms of precancerous lesions and skin cancer, including their likely causes and treatment options.