All of us who enjoy the outdoors need to take precautions and be alert to noticing our own skin cancer signs. Anna Maria Island is so lovely year round, and the sun usually shines most days. It’s very challenging to avoid the UV rays that age the skin and cause skin cancer symptoms.
It’s been said many times before, but it’s very important to try to stay inside or in the shade when the sun is overhead, from 11 to 3. It’s important to wear sunblock and a big hat to protect both the face and the back of the neck. The beach can be enjoyed from under an Australian pine, an umbrella, or at dawn or sunset.
The key to surviving skin cancer is to catch it early and have it treated. Another huge benefit of early detection is that the extent of the surgery will be less, and there is less potential disfiguration. Skin moles, freckles, discolorations and small bumps are all worth checking with a doctor, because a surprisingly high percentage of them turn out to be skin cancer.
The most important skin cancer sign to look for is change on the skin. A sore that doesn’t heal, a mole that changes in size or color, or a new growth … all require attention from a doctor. Many skin cancers are reddish, starting either as lumps or flat, scaly spots. Others are pale, smooth or waxy looking. Some are dark, with irregular edges. Anyone with any of these skin cancer symptoms should visit a dermatologist for a check up.
There are three kinds of skin cancer. The most common, basal cell, is usually considered less of a concern, since it does not usually spread. However, it can be disfiguring. It’s also important to realize there are different kinds of basal cell cancer, and that some can be invasive. For this reason, it is important to have any possible basal cell growth biopsied. Squamous cell cancer is considered the second most deadly skin cancer, because it can be invasive. 250,000 cases are diagnosed each year, and it causes 2,500 deaths each year. Melanoma skin cancer is deadly because it spreads to other organs of the body. Although it can occur anywhere on the body, it often occurs on the trunk, even in places that have not been exposed to the sun.
Because melanoma skin cancer can be deadly, the Skin Cancer Foundation has created helpful guidelines for detecting it early. Referred to as “the ABCDE’s of Melanoma,” the warning signs can be described as asymmetry (common moles are round, but melanoma has irregular shape), border (scalloped or notched edges), color (varied shades of brown, and even red, white or blue, may appear in melanoma), diameter (melanomas often are larger than a pencil eraser), and evolving (any change in a mole is a sign of danger).
Even before we moved to sunny Anna Maria Island ten years ago, I already had friends who had quite a few small basal cell carcinomas removed. I’d even had one friend with squamous cell cancer, and another with melanoma skin cancer. Fortunately, all of these people were treated successfully, because they caught the cancers early enough.
With these skin cancer signs in mind, and with regular check ups, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the fabulous outdoor recreation. Just be sure to take a few precautions. Not only will this add to your health … it will ensure your skin remains more youthful looking for years to come.