Cancer Care

Skin Cancer Awareness: Get Checked!

But as we all enjoy the outdoors a little more, it’s also a time to remember to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. 

Not just one type

Every skin cell on your body has the potential to become cancerous, so there are hundreds of kinds of cancers that can happen in the skin. That being said, there are three major types of skin cancers: 

Basal cell carcinoma: Basal cell carcinomas are the least aggressive type of skin cancer and have a low chance of spreading to any other areas of the body. They begin in the basal cells — a type of cell within the skin that produces new skin cells as old ones die off. 

Squamous cell carcinoma: This common form of skin cancer that develops in the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layer of the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is usually not life-threatening, though it can be aggressive in some cases. 

Melanoma: Melanomas are the most aggressive type of skin cancer. It carries have a high probability of spreading to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body. Melanomas develop in the cells that produce the pigment which gives your skin its color.  

Detecting skin cancer

When it comes to identifying potential cancers, remember the alphabet:

  • A is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.
  • B is for irregular border. Look for moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders — characteristics of melanomas.
  • C is for changes in color. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of color.
  • D is for diameter. Look for new growth in a mole larger than 1/4 inch (about 6 millimeters).
  • E is for evolving. Look for changes over time, such as a mole that grows in size or that changes color or shape. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as new itchiness or bleeding.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Take this time to schedule your skin check with your Methodist Physicians Clinic primary care provider.

About the Author

Dr. Robert Lindau delivers The Meaning of Care every day at the Head and Neck Oncology Clinic at the Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center. He works hand-in-hand with multidisciplinary teams to deliver outstanding care and treatment to patients.

"To me, The Meaning of Care means helping patients navigate through their cancer care and treatment, and informing them of everything that needs to happen and getting them through that difficult time and also being with them through the good times."

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