How to know when a mole becomes cancerous

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Skin cancers can appear suddenly, and in many shapes and sizes. Fortunately, it can almost always be cured when found early and properly treated.
Research shows that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It is estimated that more than one million Americans develop skin cancer annually, and more than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma are treated. Also each year, in the United States, there are more new cases of skin cancer than there are combined cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. That’s why May is designated to raise awareness about skin cancer, and to help people take action to prevent and detect it.

There are three types of skin cancer, which includes:
1. Basal Cell Carcinoma: BCC is the most common form of skin cancer. It is rarely fatal, but if left untreated, can become highly disfiguring.

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Source: WebMD

  1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This cancer is the second most common form of skin cancer.
    Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 6.35.08 PM

Source: WebMD

  1. Malignant Melanoma: This cancer is the most serious skin cancer. It is estimated that one person dies every 52 minutes from this condition.Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 6.35.12 PM

Source: WebMD

No one is exempt from skin cancer, and can affect everyone’s skin and eyes. According to the American Cancer Society, some common factors that increase your chances of developing the condition include:

  • Having a family history of skin cancer
  • Had skin cancer in the past
  • Have several moles, irregular moles or large moles
  • Have freckles and burn before tanning
  • Have fair skin, blue or green eyes or blond, red or light brown hair
  • Live or vacation at high altitudes
  • Live or vacation in tropical or subtropical climates
  • Work indoors all week and then get intense sun exposure on weekends
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Have certain autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Have certain inherited conditions that increase your risk of skin cancer, such as xeroderma pigmentosum or nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome.
  • Have a medical condition that weakens your immune system, such as HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
  • Have had an organ transplant
  • Take medications that lower or suppress your immune system
  • Take medicines that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight

Some methods of protecting yourself from harmful UV rays include using an effective sunscreen, seeking shade when possible, wearing clothing that provides protection, wearing hats with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim, wearing sunglasses and avoiding tanning beds and sun lamps.

If you or someone you know suspects skin cancer, please call Dr. Schumacher at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment. If you have a form of skin cancer, finding it early is the best way to ensure it can be effectively treated.