Would You Know Skin Cancer If You Saw It?
Skin cancer is sneaky, and not because it doesn’t give fair warning. An early — and curable — cancer can usually be spotted, but often you never see it (it’s hiding on the back of your upper thigh), or you dismiss it as just another freckle. Sure, you’ve heard the «changing color, ragged edges» litany many times, but do you know exactly what that looks like on your own skin?
Time for some show-and-tell. Now — when you’re still wearing your shorts and flip-flops and showing more skin than usual — is the perfect time to see whether you can spot skin cancer.
Skin Cancer — Overview
Skin cancers are malignant growths of the skin. Each year, more than one million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer.
The most common types of skin cancer affect the epidermis: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The least common but most deadly type of skin cancer is melanoma, a cancer that arises from pigment-producing melanocytes. Skin cancers develop when damaged skin cells grow out of control, usually because of the effects of sun exposure.
People of all ages and skin tones may get skin cancer; however, certain risk factors increase the possibility of developing the condition, including:
excess sun exposure or a history of severe sunburn
use of tanning beds
fair skin (phototype I and II); red, blonde, or light brown hair; and blue, green, or gray eyes
family or personal history of skin cancer
freckles or a large number of moles