While skin cancer can show up anywhere on the body, there are a few places that are more at-risk than others. Below we’ll talk through the most common areas that skin cancer appears, what to look for, plus how you can best protect yourself.
While melanoma is the most well-known type of skin cancer, there are a few others that can develop. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is actually the most common type of skin cancer, affecting around 1 million Americans per year. BCC occurs in the topmost layer of the skin, known as the epidermis.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is less common than BCC. It affects different cells but is also found in the epidermis layer of the skin. Melanoma is the deadliest and most dangerous type of skin cancer, affecting skin cells known as melanocytes, which give skin its pigment. Roughly two Americans every hour die from melanoma.
Moles, also known as nevi, are small bumps or growths that develop on the skin when melanocytes cluster together. Most moles are harmless, but sometimes they can be cancerous. For this reason, it’s important to keep watch on new and existing moles. Changes in size, shape, color, or border can indicate the development of skin cancer, so keep track of these changes and see a dermatologist right away if you notice anything suspicious.
Other signs of skin cancer can include a shiny, translucent growth or a pink, elevated bump. These are most commonly found in BCC cancers. If you see a scaly, crusted patch of skin with a red base, it could be a sign of SCC.
Skin cancer can truly occur anywhere on the body, but because it typically develops due to UV light exposure, it’s often found in areas most exposed to sunlight. The face, especially the nose and cheeks, are common sites of skin cancer. Ears, scalp, shoulders, arms, and hands are also commonly exposed areas.
For those who live in warmer climates or wear shorts or swimsuits frequently, the torso and back, as well as the legs, can be common sites of skin cancer.
It only takes one blistering sunburn over a lifetime to develop skin cancer later. This blistering sunburn might even occur during childhood, so protecting babies and kids from the sun’s harmful UV rays is very important.
First, you should wear an SPF 15 to 30 sunscreen daily, even if you’re indoors most of the day. This is the bare minimum that dermatologists suggest to prevent both skin cancer and other sun damage like dark spots and wrinkles. If you’re spending time outside, wear an SPF 50 or greater and try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
You can also wear protective clothing like long sleeves and pants, as well as a wide-brimmed hat. Steer clear of tanning beds and booths altogether. And remember that early detection is key, so keep an eye on your skin and report any changes to your dermatologist.
If you’re in the greater New York City area and need to talk to a dermatologist about changes in your moles, contact Vanguard Dermatology today for an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists. We also conduct skin cancer screenings in-house.