During warmer weather, it’s natural for many of us to go outside to enjoy it. While being outside can be beneficial to your health, being exposed to the sun for too long without any form of protection can be dangerous. It can put you at risk for skin cancer.

About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer (the abnormal growth of skin cells) usually develops on areas exposed to the sun. The major types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, developing in melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.

The exact cause of melanoma is unclear, but you increase your risk of developing it through unprotected sun exposure and use of tanning lamps and beds.

Like most types of cancer, melanoma can often be treated successfully if detected early. Here are the symptoms that you should watch out for:

  • A change of an existing mole
  • Unusual looking growth on your skin

When To See A Doctor

You should see a doctor if you notice any changes on your skin that seem unusual.

To determine if the unusual growth or change on your skin is cancerous, your doctor will  do a thorough skin assessment and perform or request a biopsy. It is a procedure in which all or part of the suspected skin growth is removed and analyzed.

Treating Melanomas

Early-stage melanomas are treated surgically. In most cases, the surgeon will remove the melanoma as well as a border of your normal skin and a layer of tissue beneath it.

If the cancer has spread to other areas, treatment options may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, or targeted therapy.

Preventing Melanomas

Being sun smart is the best way to prevent melanomas. This includes:

  • Wearing sunscreen all-year round
    Although sunscreens don’t filter out all harmful UV rays, they definitely help in reducing your risk of getting skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Avoiding the sun during the middle of the day
    The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. Avoiding the sun during these times can help you avoid sunburns and suntans that can cause skin damage and increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • Avoiding tanning lamps and beds
    Tanning lamps and beds emit UV radiation. Using them increases your risk of skin cancer.

If you notice any unusual change or growth in your skin, don’t hesitate to have it checked. If skin cancer is detected, Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville and Cleveland, TN, has a team of surgeons trained in skin cancer treatment. To request an appointment, fill out the form here.