Did you know that May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer not only in the United States, but globally as well. If you discover unusual skin spots but are not sure if they’re normal or not, it may be time to see your physician or  dermatologist to have it accessed.

Types of Skin Cancer

There are two different types of skin cancer – melanoma and nonmelanoma.

Melanoma is an aggressive and life-threatening form of skin cancer. It can start in normally pigmented skin as well as on the heavily pigmented spots, such as a mole or birthmark. Although it usually starts in the extremities, the chest, or the back, it may also start on the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot. In some cases, the malignant growth may even start in the mucus linings of the eyes, mouth, vagina, or anus.

Melanoma is normally easily detectable and highly curable in its early stages. When left unnoticed, it can become aggressive and progress rapidly, spreading to other areas beyond the skin, such as the bones and the brain.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer, on the other hand, refers to all types of skin cancers that are not melanoma. These include basal cell carcinoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, and sebaceous gland carcinoma.

Causes of Skin Cancer

The exact cause of skin cancer is unknown but there are some factors that are known to increase one’s risk of getting it.

One of which is excessive exposure to sunlight. Sunlight contains ultraviolet, or UV rays, that can alter the genetic material found in the skin cells. It can lead to mutations and eventually, to the development of skin cancer. Additionally, the use of tanning booths, sunlamps, and constant exposure to X-rays can also trigger malignant cell mutation.

Preventing Skin Cancer

Using a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to help prevent skin cancer. Seek shade when you’re outside when the sun is at its highest peak, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Avoid tanning beds and inspect your skin regularly for abnormalities.

When doing a regular skin inspection, see your doctor if the following irregularities are noticed: new skin spots, a spot that looks different from other spots in the body, a sore that doesn’t heal, redness beyond the border of the mole, oozing, bleeding, and dry, flaking on any of the skin spots.

Skin cancer remains one of the most curable forms of cancer, especially when it is detected early. If you discover unusual skin spots but are not sure if they’re normal or not, then don’t hesitate to see your physician or  dermatologist to have it accessed. If abnormal skin cells are suspected, the physicians of Premier Surgical in Knoxville are experts at surgically treating skin tumors and cancers.