Protect Yourself with Knowledge: Top 4 Facts to Know About Skin Cancer

Man on a beach in the sun Protect Yourself with Knowledge: Top 4 Facts to Know About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer prevention is a key part of your overall health. By understanding your risk for skin cancer, as well as how to spot it, you can prioritize your skin wellness. Here are some of the top facts about skin cancer that dermatologists want you to know.

What to Know About Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Is Common

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, as well as in the world. Studies show that about one in five Americans will develop the disease before the age of 70. However, certain people have more risk factors. Those with lighter skin, blue or green eyes, blond or red hair, and a family or personal health history or skin cancer may be more prone to developing the disease. If you have a specific skin cancer risk factor, be sure to talk to your dermatologist about routine skin cancer screenings.

There Are Several Types

If you’re diagnosed with skin cancer, you’ll have one of four main types:

  • Melanoma: This type of skin cancer is the most dangerous. Melanoma develops in the melanocytes, which are the cells that produce skin pigment.
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma: This is the most common type of skin cancer, accounting for about 80 percent of cases. Basal cell carcinoma develops in the basal cells of the lower epidermis.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: About 20 percent of skin cancer cases are squamous cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer develops in the flat squamous cells of the skin. Sun exposure is typically the root cause of squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Merkel Cell Cancer: A rare type of skin cancer, merkel cell cancer typically develops in the hormone-producing skin cells of the head and neck.

Skin cancer treatment will vary for all of these types, and your dermatologist will recommend the best treatment for you.

Sun Exposure Is a Major Risk

The sun’s U.V. radiation is a top skin cancer cause, so it’s important to protect your skin when spending time outdoors. Always wear SPF 30+ when outside, and reapply every two hours and after swimming. You should also cover your skin and stay in the shade whenever possible, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Indoor tanning also increases your risk, so it’s best to use tanning lotion and spray tans instead.

Early Detection Is Key

About 99 percent of skin cancer cases are curable, as long as they’re detected and treated early. So, it’s important to carefully monitor your skin for any changes. If you notice any changes to your skin’s texture or color, call your dermatologist. You should also look for symptoms of skin cancer like new growths, changing or new moles, and open sores that don’t heal within a few weeks. You can perform self-checks at home by standing in front of a mirror in a well-lit room and scanning your skin.

Routine checks with your dermatologist are also a must, since you might not always catch the early signs of skin cancer. Your dermatologist will likely want to see you for a screening once per year, and possibly more often if you have specific risk factors.


If you think you are showing skin cancer symptoms, or you’re due for a skin cancer screening, the team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists provides skin cancer treatment, screenings, and education at our various locations. With offices in Seal Beach, CA and other communities around the Greater Los Angeles area, we provide a wide range of medical and surgical dermatology services to support your skin health. Contact us today to get started.

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