There are several different types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanoma. Skin cancers can affect both men and women, but there are some risks and statistics that women should be aware of to catch skin cancers early and prevent growth and spread.
If you’re concerned about your skin cancer risks, get screening and prevention recommendations from David W. Ranson, MD, FACS at his South Charleston, West Virginia office. Here’s what Dr. Ranson wants his female patients to know about their risks for developing skin cancer.
Women’s risks for skin cancer
Skin cancers are often connected to sun exposure, a concern for many women due to tanning practices. When your skin cells are overexposed to solar radiation, you can develop potentially harmful skin cancers. If you develop skin cancer, your skin cells begin to grow abnormally.
People with fair skin and light eyes have a higher overall risk of skin cancer than people with darker skin and eyes. Melanoma, a type of potentially dangerous skin cancer that can grow and spread rapidly, is more likely if you have family members with a history of this type of skin cancer. You’re also more likely to develop melanomas if you’ve had another type of skin cancer, have a history of childhood sunburns, or have a weakened immune system.
While men are overall more likely than women to die of skin cancers, for women 49 years old and younger, the risk of melanoma is higher than any other cancer beside breast and thyroid cancers. And before the age of 49, melanomas are more common in women than in men.
Warning signs of skin cancer
You’re most likely to see signs of skin cancer on areas of your body that get a lot of sun, like your face, hands, neck, and arms. You might see areas of discoloration or lesions on the affected skin. Flat brown areas, flat, scaly lesions, raised waxy bumps, and even scarring can indicate the presence of skin cancer.
However, cancerous melanomas can develop in skin that doesn’t see the sun. If you have a mole that starts to change in appearance, whether you see changes in shape, size, or color, you should get checked for melanoma. Melanomas can be potentially dangerous, and need prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Preventing skin cancer
Take control of your skin cancer risk this spring. In addition to protecting your skin from the sun with full-spectrum sunscreen and minimizing sun exposure, keep track of your moles and freckles. If you notice any significant changes, make an appointment with Dr. Ranson to check for potential skin cancer.
If Dr. Ranson diagnoses you with superficial skin cancers, he may be able to use excisional surgery to fully treat the problem. Dr. Ranson can also refer you to specialists for more aggressive skin cancer treatments, like radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
To learn more about your unique skin cancer risks, or have a suspicious mole or freckle examined for potential skin cancer, get in touch with Dr. Ranson today. You can schedule your initial consultation appointment over the phone, or book online now.