One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime, and rates of melanoma – the most deadly form of skin cancer – have been rising steadily for the past three decades.
Basal Cell Carcinomas (most common form of skin cancer) and Squamous Cell Carcinomas (the second most common) are caused primarily by sun exposure, and tend to develop on sun-exposed areas, including the face, ears, neck, lips, scalp, and the backs of the hands. Unfortunately, most skin cancers (estimated at around 80%) occur on the face.
“While daily and rigorous use of broad spectrum SPF30+, seeking shade during peak hours 12-2 pm, and wearing protective clothing are still the best ways to protect your skin, early detection and treatment are critical. Getting to a doctor in time could literally save your life,” said Chevy Chase, MD dermatologist Rebecca Kazin.
Skin cancer is more common in people with lightly pigmented skin. Individuals with fair or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, and who burn easily are also more at risk. However, skin cancer does not discriminate and no one is immune from possibly developing basal or squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma during their lifetime. Remember Bob Marley.
The first line treatment is often surgery to remove skin cancer. In some cases, this is followed by more advanced reconstructive procedures, such as skin grafts and flaps. In fact, 87 percent of facial plastic surgeons saw patients for reconstructive work related to skin cancer in 2014, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS).
In 2014, the nose (68 percent) was the most common site on the face for skin cancer facial reconstruction, followed by the cheeks (16), ears (6) and the forehead (4). Skin cancer and Mohs surgery were the second most common reconstructive technique performed by facial plastic surgeons in 2013. Presently 1 in 5 skin cancers are treated with the skin-saving technique of Mohs surgery, especially on facial areas where surgeons will go to great lengths to avoid disfiguring scars.
According to Dr. Steven Park, President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), ‘If these cancers are not excised carefully by an expert surgeon, individuals can be left with significant scarring and/or disfigurement.”
So the best advice is to stay vigilant about any suspicious moles and brown spots sprouting up on your body, have your partner check out your back and other areas that are hard to check yourself, and when in doubt, go directly to your doctor, and do not pass go.