Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States, with more than ninety-five thousand people diagnosed each day. A misconception about skin cancer is that it’s not that serious because it can simply be removed, but the reality is that if left untreated for too long, it can become fatal. More than two people die of the disease every hour.
When caught early, 99% of skin cancer cases are curable.
Skin cancer is not only one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, it’s also one of the most easily detected cancers because it can be seen on the surface of the skin. When caught early enough, 99% of skin cancer cases are curable, and in most cases, it’s entirely preventable. Yet, skin cancer often goes undetected until it’s too late because we don’t think to look for its warning signs and symptoms.
There are 2 main categories of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma.
- Melanoma skin cancer is the more dangerous type because of its ability to spread to other organs more rapidly if it’s not treated at an early stage.
- Non-melanoma skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. While these skin cancers can be serious, they’re typically not as life-threatening as melanoma skin cancer and are easier to treat.
Everyone is at risk for skin cancer.
Skin cancer affects the old, the young, and everyone in between. It affects those with light skin and those with dark skin. It can occur on any surface of the body, and not just on areas that are frequently exposed to the sun.
However, a number of factors put some people at a higher risk for developing skin cancer than others. You’re more likely to develop melanoma or some other type of skin cancer if:
- You’ve had more than five sunburns in your lifetime.
- You’ve had at least one sunburn that caused blisters when you were a child or a teen.
- You have a history of indoor tanning. Each year, more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States are linked to ultraviolet radiation emitted through indoor tanning devices.
- You have a family history of skin cancer.
- You have a personal history of skin cancer.
Certain physical characteristics can also put you at a higher risk for developing skin cancer, such as:
- Fair skin, freckles, light hair and eyes
- A large number of moles
- Certain types of moles
- Being male
- Older age
Be aware of the signs of melanoma and other skin abnormalities.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should do a thorough self-examination of your entire body every month for signs of skin cancer. You should look for anything new, changing, or unusual. Even the smallest blemish that refuses to heal or changes shape over time may be a warning sign of a more serious problem.
Get your moles, blemishes, lumps, markings, and sores checked!
Don’t wait to take action until it’s too late! If you notice anything suspicious on your skin, anything at all, don’t hesitate to get it checked by a medical professional. Early detection saves lives!
Should you see a dermatologist for your skin concerns?
A common misconception about having skin abnormalities checked is that they need to be checked and diagnosed by a dermatologist, but primary care providers and general surgeons are also qualified to evaluate skin abnormalities and determine whether or not they need to be removed or biopsied.
Which option is right for you?
- Visit your primary care provider. Your PCP can evaluate your skin abnormality and determine if it needs to be removed or biopsied. Your PCP should then refer you to a surgeon to have the procedure done.
- Call and request a consultation with Dr. Warren’s office. Dr. Roderick Warren is a general surgeon at Amberwell Atchison with over twenty years of surgery experience. One of his specialties is removing precancerous, cancerous, and noncancerous skin abnormalities. Initially, you’ll have your consultation with Dr. Warren to determine if surgery is needed. You can do this directly, without a referral from your primary care provider. Then, Dr. Warren performs your procedure and provides follow-up care. This saves you the hassle of juggling multiple appointments with multiple providers.
- Visit a dermatologist. A dermatologist will evaluate your skin abnormality and determine if it needs to be removed or biopsied. While a visit to a dermatologist for an evaluation may be beneficial, we strongly recommend that you visit an experienced surgeon for any surgical procedure.
Free Skin Cancer Screening at Amberwell Atchison
Attend the free skin cancer screening at Amberwell Atchison on Friday, May 7th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Get your skin spots checked and meet Amberwell Atchison’s amazing surgical care team.
Registration is encouraged, but walk-ins are also welcome. For more information, call 913-367-6682.