Skin Cancer: Know what to look for!

Noticed any odd sun-spots lately or have a weird looking mole on the back. It is always a safe bet to get those odd skin anomalies checked by a professional. Dr. Stan Hill, a local dermatologist, gave an informative lecture to the campus community about what all types of skin cancer can look like and how dangerous they can be.

There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma cancer. The latter is far more common and accounts for 95% of all skin cancer cases in the United States. Non-melanoma cancers also has two types called squamous and basal cell cancers. Squamous cell cancer is the rarer of these two forms of skin cancer. With around 200,000 cases reported each year in the United States, only 2,300 of these are fatal. Basal cell cancer is much more common, and with over 1 million cases reported each year in the U.S. alone, chances are you or someone you know will have a run in with basal cell cancer. Even though basal cell cancer is the most common form of skin cancer it is rarely fatal. Another thing to keep in mind is that one’s risk for both squamous and basal cell cancer increases greatly with sun exposure. Both are rarely fatal, and can take years to become dangerous. They also happen to be relatively easy to treat, and usually require no hospitalization.

Melanoma cancers are much less common than their counterparts, accounting for only 5% of skin cancer cases, but are far more serious. This 5% of skin cancer cases accounts for 75% of skin cancer fatalities. Unlike non-melanoma cancers, melanoma is not as driven by the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. There are many other factors that increase the risk of melanoma manifesting, such as family history and the skin products used. If a mole has all of a sudden started to change shape or color or it is distinctly different from any other spot on your body, then it may be a melanoma cancer and should get checked out by a professional as soon as possible. As with most cancers the key to survival is early detection. “The ugly duckling mole or spot is the one that will get you!” Dr. Hill mentioned repeatedly, emphasizing that early detection saves lives.

If a spot or mole on your skin is cause for concern, there are many opportunities to get it checked out right away. Dr. Hill spends one day a month in the Student Health Center here on campus, and is excited to help anyone who comes to see him.

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