Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. There are several kinds but basal cell is the most frequent. More than four million cases are diagnosed in the US each year. Squamous cell is next, diagnosed in one million people annually. Both are easily treated either surgically or with special medications. Sometimes radiation or cryotherapy are used. The most important thing about these and any skin cancer is early detection.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which can be much more serious and difficult to treat depending upon the stage at the time of detection. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and require chemotherapy or radiation in addition to surgery. If a first-degree relative has had melanoma your chance of developing it is 50% higher.

Recognizing melanoma relies on the ABCDEs which stands for these characteristics:

  • A – Asymmetry
  • B – irregular Borders
  • C – changes in Color
  • D – Diameter larger than 1/4 inch
  • E – Evolving (changes over time)


An example of melanoma skin cancer


Early detection of skin cancer requires close observation of your own body, including hard to see areas that might require enlisting the help of another person. Most important is having an annual skin check by a dermatologist.

Prevention includes the use of sunscreen every day regardless of the weather or your activity. UV rays are always present and even penetrate glass in your car, office or home.

The benefits of sunscreen for African Americans has not been fully established. One should discuss this with their physician.

You can read much more specific details of skin cancer and its treatment at this American Cancer Society website

This site also has several photos of different types of skin cancer and includes a chat line if you have further questions.

The Cancer Helpline number is:  1-800-227-2345