Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, as 1 in 5 Americans are estimated to have some form in their lifetime. It is important to stay aware of any unusual skin blemishes or markings, so you can catch skin cancer before it becomes high-risk. Fade Mahmoud, M.D., of Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center shares some important information about the types of skin cancer and how risk varies between men and women.
What are the types of skin cancer?
Basal cell carcinoma:
This type accounts for around 90% of skin cancers. They are typically slow-growing, and they don’t usually spread to other parts of the body. If left untreated, however, they can get into bone and other tissue.
Squamous cell carcinoma:
This is the second most common type of skin cancer. It’s much more likely to spread deeper than the skin, and to other areas of the body. Actinic (solar) keratosis is a condition usually on sun-exposed areas that can turn into squamous cell carcinoma over time.
This type of skin cancer is less common and originates where the skin pigment is created. It is more dangerous, but, if it is caught early, it is very treatable.
Am I at risk?
Compared to women, men are at greater risk to develop basal or squamous cell carcinoma. The reason for this is more exposure to the sun – men are thought to be more exposed to sun than women.
Before the age of 50, women are more likely to develop melanoma. After age 50, men are more likely to develop it. Studies show that this is a result of younger women using tanning beds or laying out in the sun with the goal of getting a tan. Oddly enough, even though more young women develop melanoma, men have a higher mortality rate. Studies have even reported a difference in melanoma between the genders, making it more dangerous in men.
How can I prevent it?
Women are typically thought to be better at taking preventive measures to care for their skin and prevent skin cancer – so men, make sure you are also taking some caution. It is important for you – no matter your gender – to self-examine your skin, wear protective clothing, use sunscreen (at least SPF 30), wear a wide-brimmed hat, wear UV-blocking sunglasses, avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest, and seek shade when outside.
These practices will help lessen the amount of ultraviolet radiation you are exposed to and decrease your risk of sunburn, both of which are big risk factors for skin cancer. Prevention is critical to avoid invasive procedures.
Remember, if you spot it early get it checked early by visiting a dermatologist. To find a dermatologist near you, go to bannerhealth.com/physician-directory.