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Mariya O. Pogorelova, MD
Mercy West Clinic
1000 Mineral Point Ave. Janesville, WI 53548
Skin cancer is a very common problem that affects % of US population. It can affect people of any age, but is more common in older people.
There are three types of skin cancer: Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The most common type is Basal cell carcinoma. Melanoma is less common but more dangerous. Early diagnosis can make big difference in treatment outcomes and prognosis. If left untreated, skin cancer can spread from skin to other organs and tissues. You should know the symptoms of skin cancer and have your skin checked at least once a year during your annual physical exam.
Risk factors for skin cancer:
You are at a high risk for skin cancer if you have light-colored skin, hair or eyes, and if you burn easily. People with a family history of melanoma are at higher risk to develop this type of skin cancer. Skin cancers are more common after age 40. People who had severe sun burns during their childhood have a much higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Symptoms of skin cancers:
Skin cancer can have different appearances. They can be small, shiny, waxy, scaly, rough, firm, red, crusty or they might bleed. Any new skin lesion should be checked by a physician. New dark, black moles should be checked immediately. Any bleeding, itching or irritated skin lesion should be check by a physician.
You should take any changes in a mole or any sudden growth on the skin very seriously.
Different types of skin cancers require different treatment approaches. Surgical removal of the cancer is a very common treatment. The type of procedure depends on the size and location of lesion and diagnosis. Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma rarely spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma is more likely to spread.
Minimizing sun exposure is the best way to prevent skin damage and skin cancer. Avoid being outside between 10 am and 4 pm, when sun is most intense. Always wear hats, long sleeve shirts and pants/skirts while outside. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Apply a sufficient amount and reapply sunscreen frequently every one hour and a half. Apply sunscreen during winter months as well. Use sunscreen even when riding in the car.
This article has been brought to you by Dr. Pogorelova, internal medicine at Mercy Clinic West. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Pogorelova please call (608) 756-6849