Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer: More than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with it every year, and one in five of us will develop it in the course of our lifetimes. Fortunately, it’s also the easiest to treat and cure, if it’s identified early.
Regular visits to a dermatologist are vital to protecting your skin, but in between appointments, keep an eye out for these typical forms of skin cancer before they turn deadly:
• Basal cell carcinoma. The most frequently diagnosed skin cancer, this appears as a translucent bump that may be pearly, pink, or shiny. It’s associated with exposure to UV rays and, if untreated, can become disfiguring, but basal cell cancers rarely metastasize. They can be removed with minimally invasive surgery in a doctor’s office.
• Squamous cell carcinoma. These tend to look like sores: red, crusty, or scaly. They may bleed and are often painful. They’re usually found on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Squamous cell cancers are the second-most-common form of skin cancer and will grow if not treated. Again, different types of surgery can remove the cancer if performed early enough.
• Melanoma. Melanoma appears as an irregular mole that may be black, brown, skin-colored, or even pink or white. This is the most serious type of skin cancer, capable of spreading to other parts of the body with fatal results if not treated quickly. Because melanoma can resemble a mole, be the lookout for any lesion on your skin that seems different from the rest.