Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, but it is also one of the most preventable and treatable when detected early. Understanding how to prevent, detect, and treat skin cancer is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and overall well-being. When you know what to look for with skin cancer, you’ll know when to visit your dermatologist for care, which can increase your chances of early detection.

Dealing With Skin Cancer

The primary cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. To protect your skin, you should take steps to protect yourself from the harm of UV radiation. You should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days. Always wear protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses and seek shade, especially during peak sun hours.

Conduct monthly self-examinations to look for new or changing moles, freckles, or spots. Early detection is key to successful treatment. This also includes visiting your dermatologist regularly to make sure that you haven’t missed any signs of skin cancer.

Regularly check your skin for the following signs of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole doesn’t match the other.
  • Border: Edges are irregular, ragged, or blurred.
  • Color: Varies from one area to another; shades of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue.
  • Diameter: Larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser).
  • Evolving: Changes in size, shape, color, or texture.

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, treatment will need to start immediately. Often, your dermatologist will recommend cutting out the cancerous tissue or using Mohs surgery to remove the cancerous cells one layer at a time. In some cases, you may need radiation therapy to kill cancer cells that cannot be surgically removed.

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