Every time you go to the beach, you probably notice a bunch of people who are covered from head to toe in sunscreen. This is because they are aware of the harmful effects that the sun’s UV rays can have on their skin. The dangers from skin cancer are very real. Just as it is important to protect yourself from the sun’s rays with sunscreen, it is equally important to receive regular skin cancer screenings.
It is estimated that in the United States, approximately 76,000 people will develop skin cancer in the form of melanoma. This is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and annually it will lead to the death of approximately 10,000 people. For this reason, many people have seen the benefits of having an annual total body screening. However, there are some who might think it is a little bit overkill to get screened for skin cancer every single year.
When determining how often you should undergo skin cancer screenings, it is good for you to have all of the facts. First of all, skin cancer is divided into three categories. There is squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. The first two categories are by far the most common types of skin cancer. It is estimated that around 90 percent of people with skin cancer have either of these two types. Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are very rarely fatal. It is estimated that of everyone who is affected by this type of skin cancer, only 0.1 percent of them will die from it.
The last category, melanoma, is where the big threat is. In 2000, 15,000 out of 70,000 people were diagnosed with it, and of that number almost 10,000 people died from it in the United States alone.
You have the greatest risk of developing melanoma if your family has a history of the disease or if you have a lot of moles on your body. In fact, if you have over 100 moles on your body, your chance of developing the disease grows exponentially.
White males over the age of 65 are at the highest risk for this disease. In addition, the lighter your skin is, the higher the risk that you will develop this disease. However, this does not mean that individuals with darker skin tones cannot get melanoma.
When you come in for regular skin cancer screenings, our doctor will be able to determine if a skin lesion or a mole might lead to cancer. This can often be done by going over the ABCDE’s. Is it asymmetrical? Are the borders uneven or ragged? Does it have multiple colors? Does it have a diameter more than six mm? Is the lesion evolving over time? The answer to these questions can be used to determine if a mole or a lesion is potentially cancerous.
Researchers have shown that getting frequent skin cancer screenings, especially if you are at a high risk, can improve your chances of identifying cancer early and treating it. If there is anything positive about skin cancer, it’s that it can usually be treated quite effectively if caught early. This is reason enough to receive regular skin cancer screenings. At Westover Hills Dermatology, we offer professional and comprehensive skin cancer screenings to patients in San Antonio to ensure their best skin care and overall health. Schedule a consultation with us today!