May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a time to hear from our community, spread information, and acknowledge the impacts of living with skin cancer. To kick-off Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we asked our community, “What would you like to know more about skin cancer?” Here are two of the five awareness topics, as requested by our skin cancer community.
Skin cancer comes in all shapes and sizes
“My two basal cells looked nothing like the pictures you see on the internet. Each of mine was a tiny (very small) whitish colored dot. I can’t imagine that anyone would think either one was skin cancer.”
“I was totally shocked to learn a little “bump” on top my head was a melanoma tumor.”
Monitor your skin for any changes
According to our community members, many people do not recognize the signs and symptoms of skin cancer, or ignore changes to their skin that could be cancerous. As experienced by many of you, skin cancer can look very different from person to person, including a variety of sizes, shapes, textures, and colors. While melanomas typically follow the ABCDE memory aid, other skin cancers can vary in appearance, from a pigmented shiny bump to an open sore.
As recommended by many of our community members, it’s important to tell your doctor about any lasting changes to your skin, even if you think it’s just a bruise or pimple. Skin cancers don’t always look the same, making it important to monitor your skin for any changes, and report them to your healthcare provider.
Get regular skin checks!
“I would like people to know that they should ask for a yearly skin check from their dotcor… I recommend that they see a dermatologist once a year.”
Skin cancer screening can lead to early diagnosis and treatment of various forms of skin cancer. If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, or have certain skin cancer risk factors, your healthcare provider may recommend regular screenings to check for skin cancer.1 In addition to regular checks by a healthcare provider, you can also perform a self-skin exam once a month, or as often as your provider recommends.2
Especially for people who have been previously diagnosed with skin cancer, it’s important to monitor your skin, due to your increased risk of cancer recurrence. While recurrence does not affect every patient, between 5% to 10% of melanoma patients and 30% to 50% of non-melanoma patients will experience skin cancer recurrence during their lifetime.3 As described by our community members, regular check-ups and self-skin exams can help any person to keep their skin healthy.
This awareness month, share your story!
We shared how the skin cancer community members wanted to know more about recognizing different types of skin cancer and the importance of getting skin checks. Stay tuned for how others wanted to know which sunscreen products to buy, and how to talk to children and teens about skin cancer prevention.
As we continue to raise skin cancer awareness, we encourage you to talk to your friends and family about skin cancer prevention and share your story with the skin cancer community today.
O'Brien, Sarah. "Skin Cancer Screening." SkinCancer.net, Health Union, skincancer.net/diagnosis/screening/. Accessed 7 May 2018.
O'Brien, Sarah. "How to Self Examine Your Skin." SkinCancer.net, Health Union, skincancer.net/diagnosis/self-examination/. Accessed 7 May 2018.
Hribar, Casey. "Signs of Skin Cancer Recurrence." SkinCancer.net, Health Union, skincancer.net/types-signs/signs-of-recurrence/. Accessed 7 May 2018.