The most important thing to know about skin cancer is that it is, far and away, the most common form of cancer. About 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, and you don’t have to live in a sunny state like Florida to be included in these numbers.
Since we’re fully entrenched in the colder seasons after another great summer, now is a good time to check in with our dermatology experts here at LaSante Health Center.
If you’re wondering whether this recommendation applies to you, read on.
What we’re up against
We’ve already underscored the fact that skin cancer is quite common, but we want to expand on this a little bit. The primary reason skin cancer is so prevalent is because it’s largely the result of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Unless you never venture outdoors, it’s likely you’re at risk.
Age also plays a role, because sun exposure is cumulative, and geography does matter. People who live in Arizona are more at risk than us New Yorkers. But that certainly doesn't mean that we’re immune. The sun still shines in the city.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
- Squamous cell
- Basal cell
There are about 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancer diagnoses each year in the United States, and slightly fewer than 100,000 melanomas are expected to be diagnosed in 2023.
No matter the type, early detection is important in fighting back against skin cancer.
When you should have your skin checked
There are no official guidelines about skin checks, but many experts agree that once every two or three years or so is a good idea. Seeking a specialist in skin health is key. We not only know exactly what to look for, but we can check in places that aren’t all that accessible for you.
We also want you to come see us regularly for skin checks if you have a risk factor, such as:
- Previous skin cancer
- A family history of melanoma
- A history of tanning bed use
- A history of some bad sunburns
- You carry certain genetic mutations, such as the BRCA
We also want you to pay attention to your ABCDEs, which is an acronym we use for identifying potentially problematic (atypical) moles. Most people have moles on their bodies that are nice and round, so you hardly notice them.
Our dermatology experts become concerned about moles if they take on any of these ABCDE characteristics:
- Asymmetrical — the mole isn’t round
- Border changes or irregularities
- Color — the mole isn’t uniform in color
- Diameter — the mole is more than a quarter-inch in diameter
- Evolving — the mole is changing
If you recognize any of these issues in a mole, it’s a good idea to come see us.
If you’re at all on the fence, we always feel it’s better to err on the side of caution. If nothing else, a comprehensive skin check can bring you peace of mind.
For more information about skin checks or to schedule this important screening with us, please contact our clinic in Brooklyn, New York, today. We serve the Flatbush and East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Little Haiti, Little Caribbean, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens communities.