Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: June 2016 - Skin Cancer

    July 20, 2016

    What is skin cancer?
    Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It often happens on parts of the skin that are exposed to sunlight (such as the face, ears, and hands). Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 1 in 5 Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime.

    The skin is the largest organ of the body. It does many things, such as:

    • Covers your internal organs and protects them from harm
    • Serves as a barrier against germs
    • Keeps you from losing too much water and other fluids
    • Helps control how hot or cold your body is
    • Protects the rest of your body from ultraviolet (UV) rays
    • Helps your body make vitamin D

    What are the most common types of skin cancer?

    • Basal cell cancer: This type can be cured
    • Squamous cell cancer: This type can be cured
    • Melanoma: This is the third most common skin cancer, and the most dangerous one.

    Your doctor will tell what treatment is best for you.

    What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
    A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that does not heal, or a change in a mole you already have.

    How do I know I have skin cancer?
    There is not a routine screening for skin cancer. Your doctor will look for skin abnormalities when doing physical examinations. If the doctor finds anything that looks wrong, he or she will cut off all or part of that area. That sample will be tested to find out if you have skin cancer and what type it is.

    I have a dark complexion. Do I need to think about skin cancer?
    Yes, skin cancer affects people of all colors and races. Still, people with fair skin are at greater risk.

    What can I do to lower my risk of skin cancer?
    Do not stay in the sun too long. Find shade, especially during midday hours. Avoid tanning beds and sunbathing. Wear protective clothing, and follow the “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!” rules:

    • Slip on a shirt - Choose shirts and pants that cover as much skin as possible.
    • Slop on sunscreen - Choose a sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
    • Slap on a hat - Choose a hat that shades the face, neck, and ears.
    • Wrap on sunglasses - Protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them from UV rays.

    A word from Dr. Loredana Ladogana, Interim Chief Medical Officer at Affinity Health Plan:
    It is important to examine your skin often, from head to toe. If you spot anything unusual, see your doctor. Early detection is key in preventing skin cancer.

    To learn more:

    Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention
    American Academy of Dermatology
    American Cancer Society
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  

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