Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. There are more new cases of skin cancer each year than the combined incidence of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer. Skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of skin color, gender or age. In fact, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. While these facts may be alarming, skin cancer is mainly a behavioral disease, so it is highly preventable.
Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection
If you are an adult, Brashear Family Medical advises you to visit our office once a year for a skin cancer screening. These screenings are extremely useful in the prevention of skin cancer.
During a skin cancer screening, we will examine your skin and check every spot, rash or variation. Moles are examined under a hand-held microscope and if any require testing, your doctor will let you know. To test any suspicious spots, we will apply local anesthetic and take a biopsy or remove most of the mole. The biopsy or mole is sent to a lab for testing. The results will determine if we need to schedule another appointment with you to have a broader area of skin around and under the pre-cancerous or cancerous spot removed. This is also done with local anesthesia. In most scenarios, most skin cancers are cured once they are removed. Depending on the severity, our doctors here at Brashear Family Medical will likely want to visit you again in 6 to 12 months for another checkup.
Melanoma/Skin Cancer Prevention
While not all skin cancers can be prevented, there are some best practices for reducing your risk of getting melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. These practices include:
- Avoid indoor or outdoor tanning
- Apply sunscreen to the face, neck and decollete everyday year round. In addition, sunscreen also helps to prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging.
- Try to stay out of the sun between 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. in the summer, and particularly on days when the UV Index is high.
- If you have to be in the hot summer sun, make sure to wear a hat and protective clothing whenever possible.
- Apply and re-apply sunscreen to all exposed skin every 1.5 to 2 hours while the sun, particularly when swimming or sweating.
This past month (May) was Skin Cancer Awareness Month. While this month has past, it is important to be aware of skin cancer all year round. It is the most common cancer, but in most cases it easy to prevent and detect, we all just need to be a little more aware. If you have abnormal or unusual spot on your skin, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us here at Brashear Family Medical using the link below so we can determine the best solution for your needs.