There are more than 100 different types of skin cancer. The three most common are:
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Today we are going to highlight the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, in Part 1 of our 3 part Skin Cancer Series.
Previse Medical advisor Dr. Ellen Marmur writes in her book Simple Skin Beauty, “BCC account for about 90% of skin cancers diagnosed each year, and it has the lowest risk of metastasis. Although it is slow to spread, it certainly needs to be treated immediately. Because BCC tumors grow contiguously, once it is excised, the recurrence risk is very low. BCC is 95 – 100 percent curable when caught early”.
FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE
While BCCs and other skin cancers are almost always curable when detected and treated early, it is best to prevent them in the first place. Keep your skin healthy, and make the following sun-safety habits part of your daily health care routine:
Healthy skin is hydrated, thicker and more elastic, better able to combat the environment, has fewer lines and wrinkles, and more even tone. Previse helps keep your skin healthy by gently purifying the dermis as compared to cleansers that contain harsh surfactants, parabens, and petroleum by-products. Previse Nutrify and Defend help nourish your skin, and over time improve your skin’s thickness and elasticity. Taken together your skin’s in better fighting condition.
However, even the healthiest skin is susceptible to UVA and UVB damage. So please incorporate these sun-safety practices.
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Do not burn.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 25 or higher*
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. See our EASY SKIN CANCER SCREENING post for more information
* Launching March 2013, Previse SunSheer™. Our physical block, sheer sunscreen offers both UVA (broad spectrum) and UVB (25 SPF) protection. When used as part of a skin care regimen, SunSheer can help prevent skin cancer.
RED FLAGS FOR BCC
- A pearly slightly elevated, smooth pink bump, like a pimple that doesn’t go away.
- A smooth, flat white – pink scar (these are more aggressive).
- A brown patch that suddenly appears and resembles a large, misshapen freckle.
- A dry crusty spot on the skin.
- A small ulceration that tends to bleed.
FIRST LINE TREATMENT FOR BCC
- Excision (removal). The best removal practice is Mohs Micrographic Surgery. Mohs Micrographic Surgery is highly accurate and precise. The surgeon is able to spare surrounding tissue, which results in much less scarring. This is especially important if the lesion is on the face or neck.
- Electrodessication & Curettage of the tumor, which basically involves scraping and burning the lesion off the skin. This procedure has limitations as the doctor is unable to determine if all the cancer has been removed, and scarring may mask any malignancy underneath it. This method is most commonly used to remove BCC’s that are not on the face or neck.
- Chemotherapy creams or photodynamic therapy to treat precancerous lesions.
TAKE NOTE: It’s important to make sure that the dermatologist doing Mohs Micrographic Surgery is actually a fellowship trained Mohs Surgeon. It is wise to double check the official Mohs Surgery Web site.
The Skin Cancer Foundation also provides more details with regards to basal cell carcinoma, causes and risk factors, prevention guidelines and treatment options.
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