Skin Cancer

Prevention

The best ways to prevent skin cancer are to wear sunscreen daily, seek shade, wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors, and avoid tanning beds. These protective measures should be used all year round, and sunscreen should be worn even when it is cloudy. Sunscreen should have a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher against both UVA and UVB rays. A dermatologist can perform yearly skin examinations to check for suspicious moles or markings on the body.

Treatment

When skin cancer is caught early, it is usually treatable. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are typically less dangerous than melanoma. Superficial or small skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, may not require treatment beyond removal during biopsy. Larger growths may need more extensive treatment or removal via freezing, laser therapy, or excisional surgery. Severe cancers may be treated with more extensive surgery to remove abnormal cells, radiation therapy when surgery is not an option, or chemotherapy to kill cells that have spread. Additional treatments include photodynamic therapy, which uses light and drugs to kill cancer cells, and biological therapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to attack the cells.

More Information

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-cancer/DS00190
Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/skincancer.html

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