Skin cancer can be a debilitating disease. It can lead to widespread problems, and in some cases, death. The Skin Cancer Foundation explains that melanoma, one of the deadliest of skin cancers, contributes up to three percent of all childhood cancers. The key is preventative techniques and early detection to help eradicate the cancer or push it into remission. Here are a few ways that you can help your pre-teen or teen help reduce her risk of developing various forms of skin cancer.
Know Your Risk Factors
Some teenagers are more prone to skin cancers than others, and not just because they may have spent more time out in the sun. Here are some tell-tale signs that may put your pre-teen at risk for developing cancer now or years from now. This includes:
- A family history of skin cancer
- Previous removal of a suspicious or pre-cancerous skin lesion
- History of sunburns early on in life
- Skin that reddens easily
- Freckled skin, moles, birthmarks or uneven skin tones
- Very light skin color
- Green or blue eye color
- Red or blond hair
Taking these risks into consideration is something that you should share with your teen. From there, she can take the necessary steps throughout life to keep her skin protected from the sun.
Reducing your risk and your teen's risk of developing skin cancer starts with avoiding direct sunlight without adequate protection. Choose a waterproof sunscreen that will stay in place throughout the day while she's enjoying the outdoors. There are also several daily moisturizing lotions as well as makeup foundations that also contain SPF protection. Remember to tell your teen that anytime she walks outdoors, she's exposing her skin to some sort of UV radiation.
An initial consultation with a dermatologist is imperative, especially if your teen has had a lot of sun exposure since birth. A dermatologist will be able to examine the condition of your teenager's skin and look for skin or mole irregularities that may indicate a precancerous lesion. From there, your doctor will recommend what interval he would like to see her back in for a visit.
It's important to be able to recognize what is a common skin discoloration and what is something more serious, like cancer. There are three main types:
- Basal cell carcinoma- a slow growing cancer that rarely spreads to other organs.
- Squamous cell carcinoma-a slow growing cancer that can spread and should be treated right away.
- Melanoma- a fast spreading type of cancer that can quickly spread to vital organs.
When looking for signs of any type of cancer. Remember the ABCD and E's.
- Asymmetry- One side of the mole is not identical to the other.
- Border- The edges of a mole are irregular or blurred.
- Color- Different colors lie within the mole.
- Diameter- The overall diameter is larger than the head of a pencil eraser.
- Evolving- The mole evolves from a small shape to a larger size or color from a previous exam.
Taking all of these things into consideration is important when deciding when and if you should seek treatment.
Always erring on the side of caution is recommended when it comes to changes in your teenager's skin. Early detection is key to the best survival rates and outcome. Speak to your dermatologist today about questions regarding changes in your teen's skin.
For more information, contact Henry E. Wiley, III, M.D. or a similar medical professional.