Do You Know What to Look For?
- Posted on: Feb 15 2018
Living in sunny Texas, skin cancer’s a known commodity. But it’s not as if you simply put on some sunscreen and you’re good to go. It’s important for everyone to understand the causes and some keys to seeing potential skin cancer on your skin. Since we treat skin cancers at Creative Image Laser Solutions, here’s some information you should know.
Who is at risk?
People with light skin develop skin cancer more than those with darker pigmentation. It is estimated that from 40 to 50% of people with fair skin who live to be at least 65 years old will develop at least one skin cancer in their lives. As you would expect, the incidence of skin cancer is higher in places with intense sunshine, places such as Florida, Arizona, and Hawaii. And Texas. Overall, skin cancer is most common in Australia, which was settled by fair-skinned people of English and Irish descent.
What causes skin cancer?
Melanin is the issue. Melanin is the pigment in the skin that helps protect the skin. The reason people tan is a defense mechanism the body uses for sun exposure. When the skin receives UV radiation the melanin in the skin reacts, darkening the skin. Fair-skinned people have less melanin in their skin so they have less protection. Redheads, blue-eyed blonds, and others with very light skin have the highest incidence of skin cancers.
Sunlight is the trigger for skin cancer development, but it has different effects in different skin cancers. The ultraviolet rays in sunshine are the culprits, as they can alter the genetic material in skin cells, causing them to mutate. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are linked to the amount of sun exposure a person receives. Fair-skinned people who spend a good deal of time outdoors will likely develop one of these two carcinomas.
Melanoma is a bit different. Melanoma is linked to the degree of sun damage received at one time. You know the blistering sunburns that you’ve received from a day down on the Gulf? It is estimated that just one blistering sunburn during childhood doubles a person’s risk for developing melanoma later in life.
Know your ABCDEs
These five letters can come in handy when looking for skin cancers on your skin.
- Asymmetry— If one half of the mole doesn’t match the other half, that’s a concern. Normal moles are symmetrical.
- Border— If the border or edges of your mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular, that is a reason to call Dr. Butka. Melanoma lesions often have irregular borders.
- Color— Normal moles are a single shade throughout. If your mole has changed color or if it has different shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red, then it should be checked.
- Diameter— If a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil it needs to be checked.
- Evolving— If a mole evolves by shrinking, growing larger, changing color, itching or bleeding, or other changes it should be checked. Melanoma lesions often grow in size or gain height rapidly.
With all the sun we receive in Texas, we all need to be on the lookout for signs of skin cancer. Dr. Butka can remove most skin cancers. Call us at (325) 641-1927 to make an appointment.