Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States by a pretty large margin, and it does not discriminate. It affects people of all races, genders and ages, which is why it’s absolutely critical for Americans to learn about the different types of skin cancer and how to spot them. Fortunately, most types of skin cancer are highly treatable, but early detection and diagnosis are crucial to achieving the best outcome.
For any type of skin cancer, the first line of defense is adequate protection against the sun's harmful UV rays. This consists of using high-SPF sunscreens on exposed parts of your body anytime you’re outdoors as well as wearing hats, sunglasses, and long sleeves and pants if you can tolerate the heat. These measures aren’t always successful, so you need to know how to spot abnormalities to ensure quick, efficient treatment.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Starting in the basal cells in the lower epidermis (outer layer of the skin), basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. In fact, it accounts for about 80% of all cases of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. This type of skin cancer is more likely to occur in people with fair skin, but anyone can develop basal cell carcinoma. The most significant risk factor is frequent exposure to the sun or tanning beds.
Basal cell carcinoma is very treatable and has a good prognosis, but early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent it from spreading to surrounding tissues. Common characteristics of basal cell carcinoma include raised patches that may itch, pearly looking bumps, pale patches that resemble a scar, and open sores that won’t heal. In most cases, it’s found on the face, neck, arms and other areas frequently exposed to the sun, but it could also appear on the torso and legs.