More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, and one in five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer over the course of their lifetime.1 With early detection and treatment most skin cancers are completely curable.

Why Treat Skin Cancer

Early detection and treatment of any form of skin cancer is essential both to prevent the disease from spreading to other areas of the body and to achieving better outcomes.

Research has shown that most skin cancers are detected by patients rather than doctors. Learning how to examine your own skin and allowing your physician to periodically help can promote skin health and also can dramatically reduce your risks of having significant problems with skin cancer.

Learn about self-examinations by downloading a free Skin Cancer Self-Exam Kit.

ASDS dermatologists offer free skin cancer screenings as part of the Choose Skin Health program. Find a free Choose Skin Health screening near you.

There are many different kinds of skin cancers, with each type being distinguished by the types of skin cells that are primarily affected. The three most common forms of skin cancer are:

Skin Cancer Do's and Don'ts

Do...
  • Reduce sun exposure. Minimize your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun's rays are the strongest. Sun-protective clothing such as sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves and pants also can help protect your skin.

  • Use sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen everyday with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and with both UVA and UVB protection. Board-certified dermatologists recommend a shot glass-sized amount of sunscreen for your whole body (with about a tablespoon for the face, neck and ears).

  • Stay out of tanning beds. Avoid exposure to tanning beds and artificial tanning devices.

  • Recognize the ABCDEs of moles and melanoma. Any changing skin lesion should be examined by a board-certified dermatologist. During your self-examinations, look for the following warning signs in skin lesions:

    • Asymmetry (not uniform in appearance)

    • Border irregularity (jagged or irregular borders)

    • Color variability

    • Diameter larger than a pencil eraser

    • Evolving or changing moles

  • Visit an ASDS dermatologist. If you notice a suspicious mole or lesion, schedule a visit with an ASDS dermatologist, who is uniquely trained and experienced in the management of diseases of the skin, hair and nails and is your most reliable source for the continued protection and health of your skin.

 
Don't...
  • Ignore the signs of skin cancer. An annual skin cancer screening by a medical professional is often helpful to identify skin cancer in its early stages. A visit to an ASDS dermatologist should be scheduled if any abnormal skin lesions are noticed since changing moles or non-healing sores can be serious skin cancers.

  • Forego a professional medical evaluation. Because some forms of skin cancer can be mistaken for harmless freckles or moles and may therefore be unrecognized by those without proper medical training, it is best to always consult an ASDS dermatologist before undergoing any cosmetic procedure on the skin.

  • Be afraid to ask questions. To understand the impact that certain treatments can have on your health and physical appearance, it is important to ask your medical professional the following questions:

    • What are my treatment choices? Which alternatives do you recommend? Why?

    • What are the expected benefits of each kind of treatment?

    • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?

    • Will the proposed treatment affect my appearance and normal activities?

References
1. Stern RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Mar;146(3):279-82.