Skin cancer is a very common type of cancer among children and adults in the United States. It happens to be the most common form of cancer in the US, with two main types including squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancer. Skin cancer can form in any place with skin, though areas of skin that gets exposure to the sun and chemicals such as the ears, head, face, neck, arms, and hands are at a higher risk. The most dangerous type of skin cancer is melanoma, but it is also much less common.
Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
Anyone can get skin cancer, though some people do have risk factors that increase their risk of getting cancer. Common risk factors for skin cancer include people with light-colored skin, eyes or hair, someone who spends a lot of time in the sun especially those who get sunburnt often, being over the age of 50, and having a close family member with skin cancer. If you notice any suspicious spots or markings on your skin, you should get checked out by a doctor immediately. Treatment is more successful when the skin cancer is found early.
Skin cancer can technically occur anywhere on the body, but is more common on areas of the skin that get the most exposure to the sun. This includes the face, lips, ears, neck, scalp, arms, hands, feet and legs, and the chest. It has also been known to occur in genital areas, the palm of the hand, and beneath fingernails or toenails. While it is more common for skin cancer to occur in light-skinned people, it can also occur with people that have dark skin and never sunburn.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
The signs and symptoms of skin cancer vary based on the type of skin cancer. With basal cell carcinoma, the signs include a pearly or waxy bump, flat lesions that are flesh or brown-colored, and usually occur on the sun exposed areas of the body such as the face or neck. Squamous cell carcinoma also occurs in the same areas with signs including a firm, red nodule on the skin, or a flat lesion that is scaly or crusted. Finally, there is melanoma which is less common but more dangerous. Melanoma can be anywhere on your body including a mole you have had for a long time that becomes cancerous over time. Signs of melanoma include a large brown spot with dark speckles on it, a mole that changes its feel, size, or color, a small lesion with an oddly-shaped border and portions that are blue, black, red or white, and dark lesions on your feet, hands, or palms. If you notice any of these signs, you should contact your doctor immediately.