They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when it comes to skin cancer, sunscreen, protective clothing, and staying in the shade are no lightweights. But early detection is also critical; it can dramatically improve the odds of successful treatment. With all 3 types — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma — on the rise, it’s more important than ever.
See a dermatologist for a full-body exam once a year. But don’t be complacent between visits; do a self-exam at least once a month. Skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body, so don’t just inspect your most exposed zones. Get back to the doc if you see any changes or unusual markings or lesions:
Basal cell carcinoma, the most common form, can appear as a pearly or waxy bump on the face, ears, or neck, or as a fleshy or brown scar-like mark on the chest or back. It is easily treated and least likely to spread.
Squamous cell carcinoma is also treatable, but is slightly more likely to spread. It may show up as a firm red nodule or a flat, scaly, or crusty lesion.
Melanoma causes most skin cancer deaths. It can develop anywhere and there are many different warning signs. A large brown spot with darker speckles, or a simple mole that bleeds, grows larger, or changes color, could be indicators.