Bruce P.Robinson, MD

Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer is the cancer you can see! Yet skin cancer often goes undetected. With over 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the U.S. each year, skin cancer is America's most common cancer. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.

Types of skin cancers include: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Melanoma and Merkel Cell  Carcinoma, they are mainly caused by UV exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. However, skin cancer can form anywhere on the body even if it is not exposed to the sun. All ethnicities and skin tones are at risk.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common skin cancer. It is also one of the easiest to spot and treat. Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer and Melanoma the third. Despite Melanoma being the third most common form of skin cancer, it accounts for 75% of all skin cancer deaths. 

Basal Cell Carcinomas are quite common, and the number of reported cases in the U.S. is steadily increasing. An estimated 3.6 million cases of Basal Cell Carcinomas are diagnosed each year in the U.S..

Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common. An estimated 1.8 million cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. which translates to about 205 cases every hour. SCC incidence has increased up to 200% in the past three decades.

Melanoma is the third most common and deadly cancers. Early detection is critical! In the past decade (2012-2022) the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 31%. An estimated 197,700 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022 and 7,650 people will die of melanoma in 2022. (5,080 men & 2,570 women). 

Merkel Cell Carcinoma is about three - five times more likely to be deadly than melanoma. Approximately 3,000 new cases of Merkel Cell Carcinoma are diagnosed annually in the U.S. 

The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented, and it can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early.

A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a spot that doesn’t look like others on your body, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole. The “ABCDE rule” can be used as a guide. The “ABCDE rule” can be used as a guide (see below).

Skin cancer isn't going to check itself out. Therefore, an annual skin check by a board-certified dermatologist and a monthly skin check by you is vital to good skin care. See something NEW, keep an eye out for any New moles or blemishes that have popped up, CHANGING, a leopard's spots don't change and neither should yours, always check if your spots are Changing in color, size, shape, or texture, or UNUSUAL, one of these things is not like the others ... look for spots that are unusual in outline or continuously itch, hurt, crust or bleed for more than 3 weeks. It could be skin cancer.

When these skin cancers are detected early, treatment often results in a cure. Be sure to schedule an yearly skin exam with your dermatologist and more often if you have a family history of skin cancer.

Take these simple steps today to protect your skin:

  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
  • Put on sunscreen every 2 hours and after you swim or sweat
  • Cover up with long sleeves and a hat
  • Check your skin regularly for changes
  • Report any unusual moles or changes in your skin to your doctor

The ABCDE's of Skin Cancer.

How To Check Your Skin ...

Here’s what you’ll need: a bright light, a full-length mirror, a hand mirror, two chairs or stools and a blow-dryer.

  • Examine your face: Especially your nose, lips, mouth and ears—front and back. Use one or both mirrors to get a clear view
  • Inspect your scalp: Thoroughly inspect your scalp using a blow-dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Get a friend or family member to help, if you can.
  • Check your hands: Standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms. Don’t forget the underarms.
  • Inspect your torso: Next, focus on the neck, chest and torso. Women should lift breasts to view the undersides.
  • Scan upper back: With our back to the full-length mirror, use the hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back and any part of the back of your upper arms you could not view in step 4.
  • Scan lower back: Still using both mirrors, scan your lower back, buttocks and backs of both legs.
  • Inspect your legs?: Sit down; prop each leg in turn on the other stool or chair. Use the hand mirror to examine the genitals. Check the front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin, ankles, tops of feet, between toes and under toenails. Also examine the soles of your feet and heels.
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