Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. There are different types of this disease. The two most common are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Melanoma, another type, is less common, but more dangerous. Nearly 70,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and it causes 8,700 deaths. Melanoma is now twice as common as it was two decades ago. The increase is so dramatic that the U.S. Surgeon General has issued a call to action to take steps to prevent melanoma.

One way to protect yourself from skin cancer is by protecting your skin from getting too much of the sun's ultraviolet light. It's especially important to avoid getting sunburned, as this increases the risk of melanoma. Using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing, including a hat with a brim, are good ways to do this.

While sun protection is important for adults, it's even more important for children. Most of the average American's sun exposure happens before age 18. Even a couple of blistering sunburns in childhood increase the risk of later skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Articles

Latest Mohs skin cancer surgery guidelines

Dermatologists now have official guidelines for Mohs surgery, a procedure that removes skin cancer while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. The new Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) for Mohs surgery, approved by a number of dermatologic associations, will help doctors better select patients for the procedure. Mohs surgery is warranted in 200 out of 270 scenarios named in the AUC. Smaller, more superficial skin growths may not be right for Mohs surgery. (Locked) More »

New attack on precancerous patches

Actinic keratoses (AK) are small pea-sized rough patches, often scaly and with surrounding redness, on sun-exposed skin. They look minor, but they can progress to skin cancer. Typical treatment involves freezing them, scraping them, using chemical peels, or applying medicated creams for weeks. One new treatment is photodynamic therapy (PDT). Medicine applied to AK is absorbed only by the problem cells, and then it kills them when a light is shined onto the skin. All treatments are almost always successful, although some AK can reoccur. (Locked) More »

Do-it-yourself skin cancer checks

Skin cancer checks need to be a year-round maintenance effort. About 50% of melanomas are identified by patients, and even more are discovered if the skin is examined with the help of a partner. Using a computer-based tutorial to learn how to check for skin cancers can help you catch the problems early. Pay particular attention to spots that have grown or display a variety of hues, such as tan, black, brown, pearly, or translucent; moles or pigmented spots that have changed in color, mass, or contour; or sores that continually crust, bleed, itch, hurt, or don’t heal.   (Locked) More »

A lifetime in the sun? You can still cut your risk

Have you had a bit too much sun for your own good? Decades of boating, fishing, hiking, golfing, and just plain drowsing on the deck contribute to your lifetime exposure and risk of developing skin cancer. But there are simple steps you can take now to reduce your risk and catch worrisome skin blemishes before they turn into a threat—particularly malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. (Locked) More »

Better way to apply sun screen

Choosing the right sun protection and applying it properly are the most important steps to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays. The best sun protection for your skin starts with a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. About one ounce, approximately two tablespoons, is needed for the average adult body. About one quarter to one third of a tablespoon is right for the face. Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin about 15 minutes before going out in the sun and should be reapplied every couple of hours. (Locked) More »