Update on Skin Cancer 2024

Skin cancer awareness month is observed every May to raise awareness about the dangers of skin cancer and promote early detection and prevention.
Current data reveals that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and is still on the rise.  In 2024, it’s estimated that greater than 200,000 new cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will be diagnosed in the United States, and over 8,000 people will die. Melanoma can be very aggressive and needs to be caught early. It accounts for only 1% of skin cancers but causes the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with over 5 million cases diagnosed each year. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas account for most skin cancers and are less deadly than melanoma.
The most common skin cancer is Basal cell carcinoma (BCC). It appears as a flesh-colored or pearly papule usually, but can also be a red, scaly, persistent patch that appears on sun-exposed areas of the skin like the face, arms and neck. It is easily curable with surgery or special cancer-fighting creams.
The second most common is Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and it appears as a firm red bump, scaly patch or tender area that won’t heal. It also favors sun-exposed areas. 
Melanoma is the least common, but the deadliest. It appears as an irregular mole or dark spot but can also be pink. It has many faces so can be especially sneaky. Melanoma can spread inside the body, so it is critical to diagnose early.
There are other types of less common skin cancer such as Merkel cell carcinoma which is the type that Jimmy Buffet had.
Because skin cancer is so common, it is imperative to do self-skin exams and be checked by a dermatologist on an annual basis.
Precautions to minimize UV exposure with sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher with reapplication, sun protective clothing, hats, glasses and seeking shade are mandatory. Avoiding direct sunlight between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest is helpful.
Catherine Lakoff
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