Skin cancer can occur at any age. People with light skin and a family history of skin cancer are more likely to develop it. However, anyone can be susceptible. A dermatologist can help you protect yourself from skin cancer by providing education, diagnosis, and treatment. In order to take full advantage of dermatological services, you must learn how they can help you safeguard against skin cancer. These four important skin cancer facts can help you live a long and healthy life:
1. Early detection can save your life.
Catching skin cancer early is crucial for successful treatment. When skin cancer is detected sooner rather than later, there is less chance of it spreading throughout your body. A dermatologist can offer early detection if you get regular skin cancer screenings. During a skin cancer screening, your dermatologist will carefully inspect every inch of your body. You will be given a medical gown to wear during the procedure to preserve your modesty; only the area currently being examined is exposed, so you do not need to be completely naked at any time. Note that people at increased risk for skin cancer should have annual skin cancer screenings.
2. Prevention is key.
Your best defense against skin cancer is prevention. Your dermatologist can give you specific tips that will help you avoid skin cancer, but many of these tips follow common sense. For example, stay out of the sun whenever possible. If you must go outside, you should wear a hat and sunscreen. Sunglasses can protect the delicate skin around your eyes from ultraviolet damage. The sun is hottest at midday when it is high overhead, so avoid being outside during that time. This means it's fine to be outside during mornings and evenings.
3. A biopsy can confirm a diagnosis.
Dermatologists can recognize the signs of skin cancer. Freckles or moles that change and grow rapidly are more likely to be cancerous, as are moles with uneven borders or coloration. However, the only way to confirm a skin cancer diagnosis is through a biopsy. A punch biopsy allows a dermatologist to excise suspicious lesions. The tissue sample will be sent to a lab to test for the presence of cancerous cells.
4. Skin cancer can be eradicated through the appropriate treatments.
In many cases, skin cancer can be eradicated. Your dermatologist will settle on a type of treatment that is right for your circumstances. Surgery is often required. In many cases, surgical excision is sufficient treatment. If your skin cancer has spread, you may require additional treatments, like chemotherapy or radiation treatment.