Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70? While it’s the most common cancer in the United States, the good news is that it’s also the most preventable! Recognizing the signs and symptoms of skin cancer can lead to early detection and treatment, significantly improving outcomes. If you’re an older adult concerned you either have skin cancer or might develop it, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know.
When it comes to identifying skin cancer, self-examination plays a crucial role. Self-exams should be done regularly, preferably after a bath or shower when the skin is clean and well-lit. During a self-exam, pay close attention to any moles, blemishes, or birthmarks from the top of your head to your toes. Cancer.org recommends the following method to examine your skin:
The ABCDE rule provides a simple method to remember the warning signs of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
While melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, there are other types of skin cancer to be on the lookout for. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the cancer and the type of cancer you have.
This type of skin cancer usually appears in places that are most commonly exposed to the sun. The face, neck, hands, legs, and arms are common target areas. Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma may include:
Like basal cell carcinoma, this type of skin cancer often appears in areas of the body that are frequently exposed to harmful UV rays. However, it can affect other areas of the body that aren’t exposed to sunlight, especially in darker skin tones. Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma include:
Experts say that any new or changing spots that last for two weeks or more should warrant a doctor’s visit. While skin cancer often displays no symptoms in the early stages, symptoms may later include:
While photos can be helpful, getting your skin examined by a board-certified dermatologist is the most vital step in identifying and treating skin cancer!
Click HERE to visit the Skin Cancer Foundation’s skin cancer image gallery.
Anyone can get skin cancer at any age. However, certain factors can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. These include:
While skin cancer is certainly a scary diagnosis, it can be prevented! The best and most effective way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight. Some of the preventative measures you can take may include:
Early detection of skin cancer is crucial and can be achieved through regular self-examinations and professional skin checks. If you have a family history of skin cancer, make a point to visit a dermatologist at least once a year. Additionally, always wear sunscreen—even if you’re not going to be outside long. Remember—it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
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Originally published November 03, 2023