Russell Akin, MD | Board-Certified Dermatologist | Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeon | Midland, Texas
Which type of skin cancer is the most serious?
Spring is finally here, and that means people will be enjoying more of their time outdoors in the sun. While it’s always great to enjoy time outside, it’s important to remember the harmful effects the sun can have on your skin. In this blog post, I answer a frequently asked question: “Which type of skin cancer is the most serious?”
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world for humans. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of their lifetime, and the risk for skin cancer significantly increases with exposure to the UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. There are three major types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
All three types of skin cancer are extremely important to treat; however, which skin cancer is the most dangerous? The answer is melanoma. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, and will typically spread (metastasize) to other organs or parts of the body if left untreated. In almost all cases, melanoma is likely caused by UV rays from the sun or tanning beds, but it can also be developed out of coincidence or genetic predisposition.
How to Prevent Melanoma
In most cases, melanoma can be prevented by reducing your level of exposure to the sun or tanning beds. Melanoma can affect people of any age or skin type, so it’s vital that you take personal preventative measures to reduce your risk.
Here are seven ways you can reduce your risk of developing melanoma:
At-home Skin Checks to Look for Signs of Skin Cancer
Once every quarter, check your skin from head to toe for new or unusual spots. It is helpful if your partner can help you look in the hard-to-see areas, such as your back, scalp, and ears.
Use Sunscreen to Help Prevent Skin Cancer
Be sure to use a sunscreen of at least 45 SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays while outdoors. Be sure to apply sunscreen during the day, even when it’s not sunny outside (e.g., I recommend that you still apply sunscreen even if it’s cloudy). It’s helpful to have a partner help you apply sunscreen in the hard-to-reach areas, such as your back, to help protect yourself from the sun.
Hang in the Shade
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from sun damage is by spending time in the shade while outdoors. The peak hours for sun damage are between 11am – 4pm.
Cover Up with Clothing
You can also reduce the amount of sun exposure by wearing hats that cover your ears and provide shade on your face, or by wearing shirts with short or long sleeves.
Avoid Tanning Beds to Prevent Skin Cancer
Tanning beds put you directly in harm’s way of UV exposure, which significantly increases your risk of developing melanoma. Long-term exposure to UV rays damages your skin cell’s DNA, which can cause cells to grow at an irregular rate, thus leading to melanoma, or other skin cancers.
Regularly Check Your Nails
One of the more unique spots on your skin that skin cancer can develop is on the skin under your nails. It’s important to take a look at your nails every quarter to look for potential skin cancer lesions.
Skin Checks with a Dermatologist
Annual skin checks with a dermatologist are extremely important to help prevent melanoma, or other skin cancers. In general, it’s important to start annual skin exams in your 20s or 30s.
Skin Cancer Treatment in Midland, TX at Midland Dermatology
Midland Dermatology in Midland, TX offers full diagnostic and treatment options for all types of skin cancers, right here in West Texas. We are proud to offer Mohs surgery, which is a highly effective outpatient procedure that treats most types of skin cancer. Whether you want to check out a new spot on your skin, or if you’d like treatment for existing skin cancers, Midland Dermatology can help you.
Dr. Russell Akin, Midland Dermatology
Dr. Russell Akin, MD, RPh. FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon at Midland Dermatology. Dr. Akin specializes in skin cancer treatments, Mohs surgery, and other dermatological procedures with patients ages 12 and up at Midland Dermatology.
For more information or to schedule an appointment at Midland Dermatology, call 432-689-2512.