Q: What steps can I take to avoid skin cancer?
A: Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. It affects people of all skin tones, despite complexion and skin pigmentation. The most preventable cause of skin cancer is overexposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or from artificial sources, such as tanning beds.
There are three main types of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are cancers most often found in areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck and arms. These cancers are very common and usually very treatable. Melanoma is less common, but is the most concerning skin cancer due to its risk of spreading elsewhere in the body. When discovered early, melanoma can be cured. But despite amazing advances in treatment, advanced melanoma can still be deadly.
The ACS estimates there will be about 91,270 new cases and 9,320 deaths from melanoma in 2018. Although melanoma accounts for only 1 percent of skin cancers, it causes the most skin cancer deaths.
The ABCDE rule of skin sancer
A new spot on the skin, or a spot that's changing in size, shape, or color is the most important warning sign for skin cancer. The ABCDE rule is a useful guide in helping patients and medical providers to identify high-risk lesions or potential malignancies.
Although those who get a lot of exposure to ultraviolet light are at higher risk for skin cancer, it isn't necessary to avoid the sun completely. Here are a few tips to prevent skin cancer: