Cancer of any kind is usually defined as abnormal cell changes and that is precisely what happens with skin cancer. The good news is you can usually see the problem as it appears -- which means you can take action sooner and improve your chances for a full recovery.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and any cancer that develops can become fatal if ignored. In order to safeguard your health, you need to know what to look for, how to react and how to protect yourself to prevent skin cancer in the first place.
What to Look For
There are different types of skin cancer, but melanoma is the most deadly, and is mainly caused by overexposure to UVA and UVB rays from the sun. According to the American Cancer Society, 120,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Melanoma often begin in an area of already darkened skin, such as a mole or large birthmark, but can also show up on other areas of skin, too. This type of skin cancer often appear first on the back or the chest, but also in covert areas such as the sole of the foot, the palm, under a nail or even in the mucosal linings such as the mouth or anus.
So, how do you detect skin cancer? You start by keeping a watchful eye on your skin. You know every freckle and mole on it, so you need to pay attention to any changes in the shape, color and texture. If a mole or freckle develops an irregular border, becomes raised, doubles in size or even cracks and bleeds, you need to have it looked at by your doctor right away.
When to See a Doctor
At the first sign of any changes in the skin -- whether in pigmented or non-pigmented areas -- it's time to visit a doctor. You can speak with a general physician or a dermatologist, but if you have a family history of skin cancer, it's best to get in touch with the dermatologist first, who can perform a biopsy or removal of the mole or freckle if necessary. If the spot is cancerous, they can help you determine the best course of action, which typically involves surgery to remove the affected tissue.
You shouldn't just see a dermatologist when you suspect something is wrong. A dermatologist can also perform a regular body check to look at all the marks on your skin and assess any sun damage.
Tips for Prevention
The thing to remember about skin cancer is there are proven precautions you can take to prevent it. Some of these include:
Avoiding unprotected sun exposure.
Using sunblock everyday, regardless of the temperature or season.
Reapplying that sunscreen every two hours when outside for extended periods of time.
Staying out of tanning beds.
Wearing sunglasses to protect the tissues of the eye.
Take the necessary precautions to keep your skin safe. It's worth the work. Get everything you need to stay safe in the sun at eVitamins!
eVitamins recommends that you do not rely on the information presented in this article as diagnosis for treatment to any health claim. Content and information on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. The information and statements in this article have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. eVitamins assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements.