May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

by Michael Steppie, M.D., President, Medical Director
Associates in Dermatology • 800-827-7546 • dermorlando.com


Skin cancer rates are skyrocketing, both in the U.S., where more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually, and around the world. In fact, one in five Americans is diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their lives. It is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with more new cases than the combined incidences of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

Skin cancer is a malignant condition that begins with the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Recent studies show it can result as an accumulative effect from sun damage (90 percent in the case of nonmelanoma skin cancers). Florida’s near year-round high temperatures mean we are all at a higher risk.

Since 1975, the skin cancer death rate among Florida residents older than age 50 has doubled, and in the past two decades alone, the incidences of melanoma among Hispanic Americans have risen nearly 20 percent — a particularly disconcerting statistic considering that melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

What are the different types of skin cancer?

  • Melanoma is the most deadly of all skin cancers. It causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths. One American dies of melanoma almost every hour.
  • Basal cell carcinoma is the most frequently occurring skin cancer. Although they are generally easily treated, BCCs tend to keep growing if untreated, and, in rare cases, can start to spread.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most frequently occurring skin cancer. An estimated 65 percent of them arise in lesions previously diagnosed as actinic keratoses. Most are easily treated, but if not removed, some can metastasize and spread to distant tissues and organs, becoming life threatening.
  • Actinic keratoses are pre-cancers that can turn into SCC if left untreated. They are often an early stage in the development of skin cancer.

Early detection of skin cancer is key.

Cure rates are high, and recurrence rates are low for cancers that are caught and treated early. It is important to check for changes in size, shape and color of pigmented areas.

The Skin Cancer Foundation highly recommends an annual full-body skin exam by a dermatologist. 💓

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