Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. With estimates ranging from 3 to 5M cases per year, skin cancer is more common than breast, colon, lung, or prostate cancer all combined.
This type of cancer occurs when skin cells begin to grow abnormally in the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis. When this happens, the growth can become cancerous.
Anyone can contract skin cancer regardless of age or ethnicity. However, you’re particularly susceptible if you’ve had a close family member who has been diagnosed with skin cancer already or if you have excessive exposure to the sun or tanning beds.
Fortunately, most skin cancers are curable if detected early. Additionally, there are ways to reduce your chances of developing skin cancer.
How Can You Get Skin Cancer?
There are many risk factors that increase the chances of an individual developing skin cancer in their lifetime. Some of these risk factors include:
History of Sunburns
A sunburn occurs after too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or sunlamps. Multiple sunburns can increase the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. In addition, too much UV exposure can increase wrinkles and dark spots, leading to premature aging.
Individuals with a lot of moles or abnormal moles run a higher risk of developing skin cancer because moles can become cancerous. If you have a number of moles, it’s essential to watch them carefully and have your skin checked at least once a year by a dermatologist.
If you ever see a mole change in color or shape or if a new mole appears, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. Do the same if you have a mole or a skin sore that bleeds for no apparent reason or doesn’t heal.
Excessive Sun Exposure
If you live a lifestyle in which you are exposed to extensive sunlight, you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer in your lifetime. Examples of this include professions that require long periods of time outside, such as construction workers and lifeguards. Even if someone has not had a sunburn, cumulative sun exposure over time increases skin cancer risk.
Dr. Renata Prado explains that “The most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are generally the result of sun exposure. ”
Family History of Skin Cancer
One risk factor that is often ignored or overlooked is genetics. Genetic tendencies play a role in a person’s susceptibility to developing skin cancer. As Dr. Prado explains, “The majority of melanoma cases are also related to sun exposure, but researchers estimate that about 5 to 10 percent of cases are inherited.”
Skin cancer occurs due to a mutation in the DNA of the skin cells. While these mutations can happen in anyone, some individuals may be more prone to the mutations than others solely based on inherited cellular traits.
Dr. Vinh Chung explains that “We ask our patients if they have a family history of skin cancer, because this can increase someone’s chance of developing it themselves. This can be due to a variety of factors such as a shared family lifestyle of sun exposure, a family’s skin coloring, or certain genetic factors that run in a family.”
Dermatology in Colorado Springs
With skin cancer affecting 1 in 5 Americans, it is important to practice sun protection, wear sunscreen, and regularly see a dermatologist for a skin cancer screening.
If you are interested in having an experienced and trustworthy skin care team by your side for your skin care needs, consider the Vanguard Skin Specialists.
Our team includes professional and knowledgeable Mohs surgeons Dr. Renata Prado and Dr. Vinh Chung, who are trained in Mohs Micrographic Surgery, the most effective treatment for most skin cancers. Vanguard team also includes Dr. Michael Leslie, a dermatopathologist who provides accurate diagnosis of skin cancer, as well as dermatologists and dermatology mid-levels who are highly trained in skin cancer screenings.
Call us today at (719) 355-1585 to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you maintain healthy skin – and a healthy body.