Every time you’re out in the sun, you’re increasing your chances of developing skin cancer. That said, it would be a pretty boring life if we all stayed inside 24 hours a day! And that’s especially true here in Bend, where the outdoors is always calling and the sun is shining most of the time.
Of course, you need to apply 30 spf sunscreen whenever you go outdoors, particularly for longer periods of time, such as on a hike or playing golf or swimming. Still, your body will be receiving ultraviolet rays from the sun; those are the rays that trigger the development of skin cancer.
There are three types of skin cancer, and it is wise for everyone in the Bend area to know the difference between them.
Basil cell carcinoma — This usually occurs on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun such as your neck and face. This shows itself as a reddish patch on your skin that stays crusty and won’t heal, or a flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion. Basil cell carcinomas forms on the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. Basil cell growths are slow-growing and usually easily stopped if caught early.
Squamous cell carcinoma — This type of skin cancer also develops on areas directly exposed to the sun. It forms in the squamous cells, which are flat cells on the surface of the skin. It often develops in people with darker skin tones. The growths look like a hard, reddish bump on the skin, an open sore that bleeds, or a scaly patch.
Melanoma — This is the M word, the skin cancer that kills the most people because it can metastasize and spread throughout the body. Melanoma often appears on the face or trunk of men, and the legs of women, but it can develop anywhere, even on skin that isn’t exposed to the sun. For melanoma, watch for a mole that changes size, color, or bleeds. New dark spots on the skin, brown or black streaks underneath a fingernail or toenail. Even a bruise on the foot that won’t seem to go away. Melanoma is dangerous because it can grow downward and start depositing cancer cells into the bloodstream, where they can then end up anywhere in the body.
It is critical that everyone in the Bend area have yearly screenings for skin cancer. Call us at Deschutes Dermatology Center to set up your appointment.