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Fun in the Sun – Let’s Talk Skin Cancer

Written by Jobeth Augustyniak

May 20, 2024

Skin Cancer: What are my risks and why should I worry?

1 in 5 will develop skin cancer over the course of a lifetime. This includes the deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma. It is important to know your risk factors. Risk factors include

  • Sun exposure – UV rays damage your skin cell’s DNA which can lead to skin cancer years down the road. This includes UV rays from tanning beds and even higher altitudes, which a lot of people do not think about.
  • Skin type – People with lighter skin tone, red hair, blue or green eyes. People with darker skin tones can still develop cancer, but should know that these individuals should be aware that skin cancer can also develop on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and inside the mouth.
  • Family History – Family history is always important, for melanoma and non-melanoma types of skin cancer. Personal history is important as well. If you have had skin cancer in the past, you are at increased risk of developing skin cancer again.
  • Weakened immune system – those with history of organ transplant, HIV, other weakened immune system issues are at increased risk.
  • Other risk factors – history of sunburns, multiple moles, older age, exposures to certain chemicals (arsenic/coal

What can I do to decrease my risk of getting skin cancer?

  • Wear sunscreen/sunblock. You should apply a broad-spectrum (protects from UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. Apply every two hours if swimming/sweating.
  • Stay out of the direct sun during the hours of 10am and 4pm
  • Wear long sleeves and pants, and a broad-brimmed hat while working outside
  • Check your skin often for changes in moles or new lesions

What are the signs/symptoms of skin cancer I should look for?

  • For basal cell carcinoma
    • a new pearly or waxy bump
    • a flat, flesh/skin-colored or brown scar-like lesion
    • a bleeding or scabbing sore that heals and returns
  • For squamous cell carcinoma
    • a firm, red nodule
    • a flat lesion with a scaly, crusty surface
  • For melanoma
    • a large brownish spot with darker speckles
    • a mole that changes in color, size or feel or that bleeds
    • a painful lesion that itches or burns
    • dark lesions on the palms of the hands/soles of feet/toes or lining of your mouth/nose/vagina/anus
  • Other skin cancer types are more rare, but symptoms include
    • red or purplish patches on the skin or mucous membranes
    • firm, shiny nodules on or just beneath the skin or in hair follicles; these occur on the head, neck and trunk
    • hard painless nodules anywhere on the body, but especially the eyelids

What can I do if I notice skin changes?

Schedule an appointment with your physician to have this checked out. Sometimes a biopsy can be taken and confirmation. Most types of skin cancer are completely curable with early detection.

At Uplift Family Medicine, we can help. Your membership includes unlimited visits, free skin exams, discounted labs. Visit us online at upliftfamilymedicine.com or call us at 903-647-4511.

We wish you all a very safe and healthy summer!

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