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There are more than 1.3 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year and an estimated 10,000 people in the US will die from skin cancer this year. Living in Florida increases this risk since sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) rays are primary causes of skin cancer. Other causes include genetics and immune system problems.

Who Is At Risk For Skin Cancer?

People living in warm climates, those that have a history of sunburn or sun exposure and family history all play a role in the risks associated with this disease.

Unless you’re a trained specialist, it may be impossible to tell the difference between a healthy mole or spot, and something that is potentially skin cancer. Because early diagnosis is so important, there is no substitute for a comprehensive dermatological examination, which is covered by Medicare and commercial insurance.

Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is formed by cells that grow uncontrollably in an aggressive and disorganized fashion, disrupting and damaging normal tissue. There are three main forms of skin cancer:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma
    This is the most common form of skin cancer. It starts as a non-healing pink or red bump, spot or sore, usually on chronically sun exposed skin. It can become very aggressive but is usually successfully managed by a variety of in-office procedures.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    Squamous Cell is the second most common form of skin cancer. It starts as a red scaly or crusty bump or patch on sun exposed skin such as the face, scalp and hands. It can be aggressive and can eventually spread to other parts of the body.
  • Melanoma
    This is the most serious form of skin cancer. If the tumor is not found early, the cancer can metastasize and become fatal. Melanomas may begin as a mole on previously normal skin, so look for warning signs for melanoma when the moles begins to change in color, shape or size.

Prevention

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a form of invisible energy given off by the sun and are primarily responsible for the damaging effects of the sun on the skin. Unfortunately, most people only think to wear sun protection at the pool or beach. The truth is, solar damage adds up every day, and every time your skin is exposed to sunlight. Take precautions to avoid the sun’s harmful rays by limiting direct sun exposure during midday, sitting in the shade and using an umbrella. When in the sun, wear a hat with a 2 inch brim and sunglasses that block 99% of UV rays. And of course the most important preventative measure is applying broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

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