Because most of us are parading around with minimal clothes during the hot summer months, whether at the beach, the lake, the neighborhood pool, or just out in the backyard, it’s a great time to check your husband, wife, or significant other for signs of skin cancer.
Obviously, most skin cancers hit the areas of the body most exposed to the sun: the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, nose, chest, arms, hands, and legs. But skin cancer, especially those with genetic tendencies, can also form on unexposed areas such as your palms, the genital area, and beneath your fingernails or toenails.
Here’s a brief description of the three types of skin cancer:
- Basic cell carcinoma. This skin cancer usually occurs in areas of frequent sun exposure. A basic cell carcinoma may look like a reddish patch of skin that won’t heal, a flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion, or a waxy scar.
- Melanoma. This is the “M” word because melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It often appears on the face or the trunk of men and on the lower legs of women, but melanoma can develop anywhere on your body. The danger of this type of skin cancer is its propensity to grow downward. Once it gets deep enough in the tissue it can drop cancer cells into the bloodstream, which can then travel anywhere in the body, lodge, and start forming tumors. A mole that changes in size, color, or bleeds should be checked by a dermatologist immediately. New dark spots on the skin, black or brown streaks beneath a toenail or fingernail, or a bruise on your foot that won’t heal are also signs of melanoma.
- Squamous cell carcinoma. This skin cancer occurs on areas that receive direct sun exposure. It often develops in people with darker skin. Squamous cell carcinomas usually look like hard reddish bumps on the skin. But they can also be an open sore that bleeds and won’t heal, or a scaly patch on the lips.
Summertime is skin cancer time, so wear sunscreen and protective clothing, but also keep an eye out for signs of skin cancer. And call us at Laser & Dermatologic Surgery Center for an appointment when you see any of the signs above.