May is Skin Cancer Awareness month! The purpose of Skin Cancer Awareness month is to bring attention to the dangers of skin cancer and educate individuals on ways to prevent it. According to skincancer.org, over five million individuals are diagnosed with skin cancer every year in the United States, making it the most common form of cancer. Skin cancer is the growth of abnormal skin cells in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and UV light from tanning beds are the two biggest factors for skin cancer growth. The three most common types of skin cancer are Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is an abnormal growth of the basal cells in the epidermis. This is the most common type of skin cancer. It is normally found on parts of the body that are typically exposed to the sun the most; the face, ears, neck, back, etc. Long-term exposure to the sun is the main cause of BCC.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the abnormal growth of squamous cells in the epidermis. SCC is also found on the part of the body that is exposed the most to the sun. SCC can grow rapidly and metastasize if not treated in the early stages. This is the second most common type of skin cancer. SCC is also caused by long-term exposure to the sun’s UV rays and the use of tanning beds.
Melanoma is abnormal melanocyte cells; these are the cells that produce the color pigment of the skin. A melanoma lesion is a darker pigmented lesion that can often look like a benign mole. These lesions can be found on any area of the body, including those not exposed to sunlight. Melanoma has been linked to the very intense sun exposure that causes sunburns and tanning bed use. Melanoma is the most dangerous of these three cancers. Melanoma can be in situ (non-invasive), confined to the epidermis, or invasive, meaning it penetrates deeper into the dermis, the second layer of skin. Melanoma is treatable if diagnosed early but it can metastasize if not treated in the early stages.
Although skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, it is also the most preventable! Annual skin checks are key in early skin cancer detection. At MidAmerica Plastic Surgery, our main skin clinic provider, Laura McKinzie, FNP-BC performs numerous skin checks to identify anything on the body that may be concerning. If Laura does find a spot of concern, she is highly trained to treat skin cancer through a treatment referred to as Modified Mohs.
In addition to an annual skin check, another way to be proactive when it comes to sun safety is wearing sunscreen daily (yes, even in the winter). Sunscreens with SPF of 15 or higher help create a barrier that blocks the sun’s harmful UV rays from the skin. All through May, The Spa at MidAmerica is offering 10% off ALL SPF products! Call or text our medical spa at 618-307-6233 to purchase yours today.
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