There’s a lot I’ve learned about cancer in my lifetime, and more than I want to know about the consequences of melanoma. It really wasn’t all that long ago that many of us didn’t know just how deadly skin cancer can be.
I grew up outdoors as I mentioned in an earlier blog post. We didn’t realize how damaging the sun could be, or at the most, thought we needed to use lotions and creams after sun damage to keep our tan skin beautiful. I’m going to generalize here and say most of us knew of skin cancer but thought it was no big deal. The worst that could happen would be we have a small area removed, right?
Wrong, wrong, wrong! How naive we all were and for all of those who still think they are “immune” to cancer and the power of the sun, I deeply hope that is true for you. I know I was absolutely fine with my tan, my rosy cheeks, my “healthy” look…until I found the first area on my face and after the biopsy, learned I was unhealthy, very unhealthy as I had my first cancer diagnosis of melanoma.
Making a List and Checking It Twice
I have a plethora of cancer tips to share with cancer patients and caregivers, along with everyone else. Today I want to share some basics about skin cancer. A family member asked me if basal cell carcinoma will turn into melanoma if left untreated? What a great question and the answer is no. There are different types of skin cancer and while all of them are frightening, they do not start as one type and morph into another.
Here is a very basic list of skin cancers:
- Actinic keratoses-pre-cancerous growth
- Basal cell carcinoma-most common skin cancer and should be removed to avoid disfigurement as it can grow into surrounding tissue
- Squamous cell carcinoma-causes damage and grows deep
Any of the above skin cancer diagnoses should be taken seriously and mean there is abnormal cell growth. They do NOT turn into melanoma and each has their own description and photo at the American Academy of Dermatology Yes, you can have more than one kind of skin cancer and each has unique characteristics.
- Malignant melanoma-the most aggressive and deadly skin cancer
Skin cancer may travel though it’s far less likely to happen with the non-melanoma cancers in the first bulleted group above. Early detection is beneficial, and with malignant melanoma early diagnosis and treatment is critical.
Get the Skin-ny
Have an area that you are wondering about? Or have you had sun damage in the past? Dermatologists are a great place to have your skin examined or biopsied if necessary. Even people who have had no skin issues now have an annual skin checkup. Why not? It’s simple and may just ease your mind.
Please don’t wait if something doesn’t seem right. My first area of melanoma didn’t look like the online photos; visit a real doctor to clarify any skin concerns. As I mentioned, early detection is very important, and be #sunsmart and take care of your skin now; it’s never too late! I’d love to hear from you on how you are dealing with your skin cancer concerns. #melanoma #melanomatheskin #skincancer
We can-cer vive!