America’s Most Common Cancer
The most common cancer in the United States is diagnosed more each year than all other cancers combined. But if you think you know which cancer holds the title, you may be surprised. While lung, colon, and breast cancer receive a lot of attention, and their screenings are promoted heavily, there’s another cancer targeting Americans at a much higher rate. Skin Cancer.
Understanding the Numbers
Skin cancer is diagnosed more than all other cancers combined each year in the United States. 1 in 5 Americans will receive a skin cancer diagnosis before they turn 70. While many people think skin cancer only targets those with lighter skin tones and who spend extensive time tanning, anyone can be at risk.
Skin cancer can be diagnosed in anyone, regardless of skin tone. While sunburns can increase your risk of being diagnosed, it isn’t a requirement. Although this cancer is extremely common, it is also very treatable. In fact, when diagnosed early, skin cancer has a 99% survival rate.
The Importance of Screenings
With Your Provider – Annually
Unlike some other cancers, skin cancer, also known as melanoma, doesn’t always present in an obvious way. The most many people notice is a spot on their skin that may be itchy or a mole that looks atypical. When you combine the lack of symptoms with the importance of early diagnosis, it becomes extremely important to make sure you are getting your skin checked each year.
A skin check, which can be done during your physical, usually only takes a few minutes and is extremely simple. Your provider will look over your skin and identify if there are any suspicious areas that would benefit from testing.
The only way to definitively diagnose skin cancer is through your provider, and only they can determine the type of skin cancer and what kind of treatment to proceed with.
At Home – Monthly
Your annual skin cancer screening is extremely important, but you can also take steps between those yearly visits. Once a month take a few minutes to do an at-home skin check. Look over your skin and pay attention to spots that look or feel different. Follow the ABCDE’s of skin checks.
ABCDE’s of Skin Checks
- Asymmetry: One half of the spot or mole is different than the other half.
- Border: The spot has an irregular, wavy, or poorly defined border.
- Color: The color varies in different areas.
- Diameter: If the spot is bigger than a pencil eraser (about 6mm) you should have it checked.
- Evolving: The spot is changing in size, shape, or color.
Protect Your Skin
There are simple steps you can take to protect your skin from the sun and from skin cancer. The biggest is to avoid long periods out in the sun. If you are going to be outside, make sure you wear sunscreen. While different types might have different instruction, sunscreen should generally be reapplied every two hours. If you spend time outside on a regular basis, make sure to find a facial sunscreen.
You can also protect your skin by wearing light, breathable clothing with UV protection when outdoors. It is also important to avoid artificial UV exposure, like tanning beds, which can cause a lot of damage to your skin and can cause skin cancer.
Stay Safe from Cancer
Skin cancer can affect people of all skin tones, and is the most common cancer in the United States. However, skin cancer is preventable and treatable. With at home skin checks, and annual skin exams from your Provider you can enjoy the sun without the stress!