May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Because May is skin cancer awareness month, it’s time to learn more about this disease. Skin cancer occurs when skills cells grow abnormally, which is usually caused by sun exposure. Skin cancer can develop on any part of the body but is more likely to appear on the scalp, neck, chest, face, arms and legs.

There are certain factors that can increase your chances of developing skin cancer including excessive sun exposure, family history of skin cancer, fair skin, history of sunburns and moles. It is important to get checkups regularly to find out if you have skin cancer.

Skin cancer is diagnosed through a skin biopsy or skin examination by your doctor. With a skin biopsy, a sample of an odd looking mole is tested to see if cancer cells exist. The three types of skin cancer include melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Melanoma is considered the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

If skin cancer is found, you will have to get treatment right away to get rid of it. There are several different treatment options available including freezing, excisional surgery, laser therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy and biological therapy. The best treatment option for you depends on the size, type and location of the skin lesion.

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun. It is best to completely stay out of the sun in the early afternoon when ultraviolet rays are the harshest. When you do go out in the sun, make sure to wear sunscreen. Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen every couple of hours if you plan on being outside for awhile. You can also wear protective clothing to protect your skin like dark clothes, broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses. Also, stay away from tanning beds. Even though you are in them for a short period of time, they are just as dangerous for your skin.

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