Skin cancer is the world's most common form of cancer; it's also the most preventable. Most skin cancers are easily treatable and curable, however, some, most notably Melanoma, if left untreated, can be deadly. Skin cancer is the direct result of too much sun exposure.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are five different types of skin cancer.
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Kaposi sarcoma
- Malignant melanoma
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, resulting in the most deaths. It is curable and if diagnosed and removed in its early stages. When caught early, the 5-year survival rate is almost 100 percent. When not detected early and the melanoma has spread to other organs, the prognosis is often poor.
Are You at Risk
If you have any of the following characteristics, you may be at an increased risk to develop melanoma or another form of skin cancer.
- Fair skin
- Work outdoors
- Have a history of sunburn
- Have a family history of skin cancer
- Have freckles, moles or birthmarks (in particular large, dark colored birthmark)
- Have pre-cancerous skin lesions
- Are HIV-positive
- Excess exposure to the sun as a youth
Your doctor will examine your skin. If they find any alarming areas of growth, a biopsy will be performed to determine if cancer is present.
The goal of treatment is initially to remove the cancerous growth in order to stop the spread of the disease. Most skin cancer can be surgically removed. Cryotherapy, topical chemotherapy and radiation may also be used to treat the disease.
Skin cancer, in the majority of cases, can be prevented by staying out of the sun - especially if you fall into any of the "high risk" characteristics. When the sun is unavoidable, wear a hat and a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
You should also check your skin regularly for new or changing moles/growths as well as be screened by a physician regularly