May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is National Melanoma/Skin Care Awareness Month. Residents of Melbourne, Florida and surrounding cities know all too well about the dangers of skin cancer. Our state is known as the ‘Sunshine State’, and Brevard County has 72 miles of beach with an average of 205 sunny days per year!

Skin cancer in general is the most common type of cancer in the United States. There are various types of skin cancer, some more prevalent than others, we’re going to take a look at the most common types. When discussing skin cancer, it’s a great opportunity to also discuss skin care risks and preventions.

Common Types of Skin Cancer

• Basal Cell Carcinoma – This type of cancer typically occurs in the sun-exposed area of your body, like the face or neck for example. Basal Cell Carcinoma can appear as a pearly/waxy bump, a bleeding or scabbing sore that heals and returns or a flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion, among other forms.

• Melanoma – This type of skin cancer can develop anywhere on your body, in an existing mole or skin that appears normal. In women, it most often develops on the lower legs and in men, it most often develops on the face or trunk. For both men and women, it can appear in areas that do not get any exposure to the sun. Signs can include a mole that changes in color, size, texture, a large brownish spot with darker specks, a painful lesion that burns or itches, or dark lesions on your palms, fingertips, soles, or mucous membrane lining found in the nose, mouth, vagina or anus.

• Nonmelanoma – Nonmelanoma refers to all types of cancer that can occur on the skin that are not melanoma. This includes several types of cancer that fall under this category including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

• Squamous Cell Carcinoma – This type of skin cancer commonly appears in areas of the body that are exposed to sunlight, like the face, arms, hands, etc. Areas that aren’t exposed to the sun often can also develop squamous cell carcinoma especially if they have a darker skin tone. Signs can include a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with a crusted, scaly surface.

Skin Cancer Risks

According to the CDC, although anyone can get skin cancer, there are individuals with certain characteristics that put them at higher risk including but not limited to:

Skin that burns, reddens, freckles easily or becomes painful in the sun
• Lighter skin tones
• Blonde or red hair
• Blue or green eyed
• Family history of skin cancer
• Personal history of skin cancer
• Certain types / large number of moles

Skin Cancer Prevention

Whether or not you have one or more of the characteristics above, if you don’t reduce your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, you are at risk. While in the sun, when possible, wear a good sunscreen with a high SPF, like 60+. Also, when possible, where light colored, breathable clothing that acts as a barrier between your skin and UV rays. Practicing safe sun should be a habit for all Brevard County, Florida residents – when spending time outdoors use sunscreen to lower your risk of skin cancer.

Contact Suntree Internal Medicine

If you have questions or concerns about skin cancer, don’t hesitate to contact us today and schedule an appointment with one of our internal medicine doctors. Those of us who reside in the sunshine state know how beautiful it is, please wear sunscreen while enjoying the sunny Florida lifestyle.