Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. Our team at the MU Health Care Dermatology Clinics are trained in the most state-of-the-art treatments for all types of skin cancer, including Mohs micrographic surgery.
Skin cancer facts There are three main types of skin cancer:
Basal cell carcinoma - a highly treatable cancer that starts in the top layer of skin and grows very slowly. Usually appears as a small shiny bump or nodule on skin areas that are exposed to the sun.
Squamous cell carcinoma - also highly treatable, but more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma. Appears as nodules or red, scaly patches of skin. Typically found on the face, ears, lips and mouth.
Malignant melanoma - accounts for a small percentage of all skin cancers, but also causes the most deaths. Malignant melanomas usually start as a mole that turns cancerous. This type of cancer can spread quickly.
Risk ractors for melanoma Skin cancer is more common in fair-skinned people - especially those with blond or red hair, who have light-colored eyes. Skin cancer is rare in children. However, no one is safe from skin cancer. Other risk factors include:
Family history of skin cancer or melanoma
Sun exposure - the amount of time spent unprotected in the sun directly affects your risk of skin cancer
Early childhood sunburns - research has shown that sunburns early in life increase a person's risk for skin cancer later in life
Protect yourself this summer Take the summer sun exposure quiz to test your knowledge and learn how to protect yourself.
Watch this public service announcement about the importance of sun protection, especially for young people:
What can you do to prevent skin cancer? To enjoy the sun safely, follow these tips:
Generously apply a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher at least 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or sooner if you get wet or sweat a lot.
Shield your eyes with sunglasses and protect your skin with a wide-brimmed hat, a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt and pants.
Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must be out during these hours, plan activities for shaded areas.
Check your skin regularly, noting any spots or growths and watching for changes. Also have your doctor check your skin for signs of cancer.
Skin cancer is preventable. It also is highly curable if it is caught and treated early, so be sure to check your skin often. If you need help checking your skin, ask a relative or friend. If you find anything that looks unusual, call (573) 882-8445 or (573) 882-4800 to make an appointment at the MU Healthcare Spot Check clinic.
Spot check clinic Do you have a new mole? Do you have a mole that has changed in size or color? We have a clinic for existing patients of the University Physicians Dermatology clinic who think they may have skin cancer. We will make every effort to see you the same day or the next day to look at the new or changed spot.