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Skin Cancer Basics

Too much sun exposure doesn’t just mean getting sunburned. Overexposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. Many factors can increase your risk of skin cancer, such as a family history of the disease, fair skin, and spending a lot of time outdoors.


One of the best defenses against skin cancer is to wear sunscreen daily. This is important year round even in places like Rochester Hills where it is cold in the winter. The sun’s rays are still strong, and can damage your skin. As a bonus, wearing sunscreen and avoiding being outdoors during peak sunny hours are also great anti-aging techniques.


There are three basic varieties of skin cancer that are related to sun exposure. The most common, Basal cell carcinoma, accounts for 3/4 of all cases of skin cancer. An additional 20% of skin cancer is Squamous cell carcinoma. The most rare, and most serious is malignant melanoma. Left untreated, this type of skin cancer can metastasize and become deadly. However, if treated promptly, the chances of complete recovery are excellent.


There are many skin cancer signs to watch for. You should check your skin often, and report any changes to your doctor. A few signs of skin cancer include:

  • Change in the size or color of a mole.
  • Open sores that bleed or ooze and do not heal as fast as they should.
  • An irritated, reddish patch of skin that does not heal.
  • A shiny, pearlescent bump on the skin.
  • Moles or lesions with ragged, undefined edges.


If skin cancer is found on your body, it should be removed as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading. In cases of melanoma where the cancer has spread, chemotherapy may be necessary.