Five Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer
Unfortunately, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. It begins when the skin cells become damaged by ultraviolet radiation, causing uncontrolled growth. People of any age or ethnicity can develop this cancer, which is why it is so important to learn as much as you can. At Advanced Dermatology in the Greater Houston area, we believe in providing comprehensive resources for patients who have concerns about skin cancer. Our board-certified dermatologists and physician assistants are continually recognized for our experience and care. If you would like to learn more information about how to prevent skin cancer, start by scheduling a screening at our clinic in Katy, League City, Pearland, or Sugar Land, TX.
1. Learn about the causes of skin cancer
The dermatologists at Advanced Dermatology strongly believe that skin cancer prevention starts with education. So what exactly causes skin cancer? Sun exposure and ultraviolet (UV) light lead to most of the changes that we see as a normal part of aging, such as fine lines and sun spots. Over time, these UV rays damage the fibers in the skin, affecting the genes that control how skin cells grow and divide. This rapid, out-of-control growth is what results in cancerous spots or lesions. Although signs of skin cancer most often appear in places exposed to the sun, they can be found almost anywhere on the body.
2. Recognize the different types of skin cancer
Did you know that not everyone gets the same form of skin cancer? The different types of skin cancer are all named for the cell where the cancer first develops. They are called basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Although melanoma is rare, it often receives the most attention because of the danger associated with it. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are more common, but still need to be checked by a dermatologist and treated as soon as possible. Here is a basic rundown of each skin cancer type:
Melanoma: usually flat with an uneven outline, melanoma may present with more than one color, including black, brown, red, or gray
Basal cell carcinoma: may appear as a dry, scaly patch that doesn’t heal properly
Squamous cell carcinoma: may present as a thick, red spot that bleeds or crusts over easily
3. Use the Ugly Duckling method to discover suspicious spots
Learning how to prevent skin cancer is not an easy task since not all skin lesions look the same. Keeping this in mind, the skilled staff at Advanced Dermatology like to teach patients about the Ugly Ducking strategy for recognizing potential signs of skin cancer. This is based on the concept that most moles on the body resemble each other, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings. For example, a cancerous mole may seem larger or darker than the surrounding moles. This is why it’s important to get to check your skin for suspicious lesions once a month and report unusual symptoms to your health care provider.
4. Use the ABCDE system to identify skin cancer
In addition to the Ugly Ducking rule, patients can also use the ABCDE method. This is an easy-to-remember system that helps patients determine whether a mole or lesion is cancerous. Although this is not meant to be a tool for diagnosis, it can help you understand when to schedule a skin cancer screening with Advanced Dermatology in the Greater Houston area. Here is what patients should expect to watch out for:
Asymmetry: one half of the mole doesn’t match the other
Border: the edges of the mole are blurred or irregular
Color: moles that are black, gray, white, or red
Diameter: moles with a diameter larger than a pencil eraser
Evolving: the mole is changing size, shape, or color over time
5. Get skin cancer symptoms checked by a professional
We understand that finding a dangerous or suspicious spot can be intimidating. As part of your early detection strategy, we recommend seeing the professionals at Advanced Dermatology at least once a year for a skin evaluation. Regular examinations help determine if you have any new and abnormal growths or changes in existing moles. Not only that, but a qualified dermatologist should be able to recognize the signs of skin cancer, diagnose the disease, and help you move forward with treatment options.
Schedule a skin cancer screening
Discovering skin cancer symptoms early is key, so the professionals at Advanced Dermatology can give you the best treatment options. Our clinic is home to an experienced team of medical staff and administrators who provide compassionate care to people of all ages. We keep the patient experience at the center of everything we offer. To learn how to prevent skin cancer and schedule a skin cancer screening, contact one of our practices in Katy, League City, Pearland, or Sugar Land, TX.