As people grow older, the risk of being diagnosed with cancer increases. According to the American Cancer Society, 77 percent of cancer cases are diagnosed in people 55 years of age and older. Some people, however, may not know that the most common type of cancer is skin cancer. With more than 2 million cases diagnosed each year, skin cancer typically comes in the following forms:
Melanoma can affect skin on any part of the body, and is most likely to spread.
Basal cell skin cancer is most common in people with fair skin and is often found on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun, such as the face.
Squamous cell skin cancer is most common in people with darker skin and is often found on parts of the body, such as legs and feet that are not exposed to the sun. However, people with fair skin usually develop this type of cancer on parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun.
Know the Risk Factors
The first step in preventing skin cancer is knowing what risk factors increase the chances of developing it. If you have irregular moles or a family history, the risk of you developing skin cancer is higher. General risk factors for skin cancer include over exposure to the sun and having skin that's sensitive to the sun's rays.
Stay Safe in the Sun
Even though the sun is a cause of skin cancer, the beautiful summer weather makes it difficult to stay inside. Luckily, many cases of skin cancer can be prevented by proper protection, so you can still take your grandchildren to the pool and enjoy the weather with them while being safe. The American Cancer Society recommends the following tips to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays:
Finally, it's also important to periodically examine your skin. Look for moles that are strangely shaped or seem to have rough edges. If anything about your skin looks different or questionable, it's important to make an appointment with your dermatologist. You can also talk with your doctor about risk factors and additional steps you can take to help prevent skin cancer this summer.
Dr. Judith Black is the medical director for Senior Markets at Highmark Inc.