Did you know, that UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds is the leading cause of skin cancer in Maryland?
And with summer about to officially get under way, many individuals and families will be looking to spend more time outside.
While an afternoon at the pool or a trip to the beach is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the season, patients must also protect themselves from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
That being said, it’s important to assess your risk and understand the different types of skin cancer — and their associated signs and symptoms.
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the overgrowth of malignant cells in the skin’s epidermis or melanocytes. It’s the result of DNA mutations that are often caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays.
What Are the Different Types of Skin Cancer?
There are three main types of skin cancer including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and is divided into 3 sub-types.
Superficial basal cell carcinoma is the least worrisome, nodular has the highest occurrence, and morpheaform is characterized by tumor growth that extends to surrounding tissue.
Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma originates in the skin cells of the epidermis.
It accounts for approximately 20% of skin cancers and is most often seen in patients that have compromised immune systems.
Lastly, melanoma involves malignancy in pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes. It is the least common type of skin cancer, but is also considered the deadliest.
What Are the Risk Factors for Skin Cancer in Maryland?
The greatest risk factor for skin cancer in Maryland is exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds.
Skin cancer also occurs more often in men and women with fair complexions and light hair and eyes.
Older patients and those with compromised immune systems are also more likely to get skin cancer.
Additionally, a past history of skin cancer makes individuals 20% more likely to get a second form of skin cancer within 2 years.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer?
While basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, it may have few to no symptoms.
Whereas squamous cell carcinoma is often associated with painful lesions.
Both of these types of skin cancer may present as bumps with raised edges and a central ulceration. They may also bleed, ooze, or crust.
The signs of melanoma include asymmetry, irregular border, color changes, diameter larger than a pencil eraser, or evolving appearance.
Patients can reduce their risk for skin cancer by limiting UV exposure, wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and hats, and scheduling an annual skin cancer screening.
It’s also important to observe changes in your skin and seek medical attention to address any concerning lesions or growths.
For additional information about skin cancer in Maryland, please call (301) 396-3401 today to schedule a consultation with our expert, Dr. George Verghese.