Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, affecting more than 3 million people in the United States each year. If the disease is found early, conservative treatments tend to be highly effective.
At the practice of Ali Hendi, MD, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Dr. Hendi and his team of skin cancer specialists use advanced techniques to detect and treat all forms of skin cancer. In this blog, they discuss the types of skin cancer and the risk factors for getting skin cancer.
Types of skin cancer
The four main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, merkel cell cancer, and melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for around 80% of skin cancer diagnoses. This form often develops on the head or neck, and it’s usually caused by sun exposure or early radiation therapy.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer, accounting for around 20% of skin cancer diagnoses. It’s primarily caused by UV light exposure from the sun or tanning beds. Symptoms usually appear on the lips, around the mouth, over a scar, or in the anal or genital region.
Merkel cell cancer and melanoma
Merkel cell cancer and melanoma are by far the least common types of skin cancer, but they’re also the most aggressive. They can affect any area of skin, although merkel cells are usually found in the head or neck region.
Skin cancer risk factors
A variety of factors influence your likelihood of developing skin cancer. And the more risk factors you have, the greater your risk can become. These factors include:
- Exposure to certain substances, such as arsenic
- Having fair skin, blue or green eyes, and blonde or red hair
- History of sunburns, such as one or more blistering burns in childhood
- Personal or family history of skin cancer
- Excessive sun exposure, especially without any protection
- Having many moles
- Having precancerous (rough, scaly) skin lesions
- Living in a sunny, warm climate or at high altitude
- Radiation exposure for skin conditions, such as acne and eczema
- Routine use of UV tanning beds
- Weakened immune function
What to do about skin cancer risk factors
Taking care of your skin by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothing, and avoiding tanning beds can help lower your risk for skin cancer. If you have other risk factors, it’s important to schedule routine skin checkups and keep an eye on your skin at home.
If you develop skin cancer, detecting it early can help ensure the best treatment outcome. So if you notice an unusual mole or a mole that changes in appearance, have it examined by a doctor right away.
Our team provides a range of treatments, including freezing (cryotherapy), topical anti-cancer medications, laser surgery, chemical peels, and curettage and desiccation. If you have skin cancer and want treatment, or if you want to see if you have skin cancer, book an appointment online or over the phone with Ali Hendi, MD, today.