There are 3 primary types of skin cancer:
- basal cell
- squamous cell
Of these, basal cell cancer is the most common – accounting for more than 70% of skin cancers. Melanoma is the least common, 4%, but is more dangerous as it grows and spreads more quickly.
The answer: skin cancer. Fortunately, the skin is readily available for evaluation and knowing what to look for can help in early detection. Knowing some simple facts may also help to reassure you or lead you to seek more expert care.A yearly skin examination is a reasonable preventive procedure for everyone. This is often combined with an annual physical examination by your family doctor. More frequently examinations should be performed for those with a history of skin cancer, excessive past history of sun exposure, or immune-suppression – whether from drugs or disease.
Skin cancers don’t necessarily have symptoms – so they may not hurt or itch. Sometimes they can be fragile and bleed spontaneously or take a prolonged time to heal. You will need a bright light and a full length mirror and hand mirror. Look for spots that may be changing in size, shape or color, or that don’t heal within a typical timeframe (2-4 weeks). Enlist your spouse or a family member to check areas that you can’t easily see such as your back and scalp.