In the United States, more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer and melanoma are diagnosed each year and more than 90 percent of skin cancer cases are caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Skin cancer can be preventable by avoiding risk factors that cause the disease. Fortunately for patients who are diagnosed with skin cancer, it’s curable, especially if it’s discovered during the early stages.
Schedule an appointment with your MedStar doctor or melanoma specialist if you have skin cancer signs or risk factors. The skin cancer specialists at MedStar Health’s Baltimore Cancer Network are trained in the latest skin cancer treatment options and will provide you with quality, comprehensive care.
Skin Cancer Prevention
Most skin cancers are avoidable by circumventing risk factors that cause the disease. You can reduce your skin cancer risks by avoiding the sun during the middle of the day, wearing sunscreen year round, wearing protective clothing, avoiding tanning beds and medications that make you more sensitive to the sun and checking your skin regularly for skin cancer signs.
To protect your skin from cancer and the ever increasing radiation from the sun’s rays, just remember these four steps:
- SLIP - Slip on a comfortable shirt that is tightly woven.
- SLOP - Slop on the sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and apply it every 15-20 minutes (even if it says waterproof).
- SLAP - Slap on a wide brimmed hat to protect your face, neck and ears.
- WRAP - Wrap sunglasses around your eyes, some of the most sun sensitive organs of your body.
Click to learn more about Which Sunscreen is Best For You.
Skin Cancer Screening
One of the best ways to detect possible skin cancer and melanoma is to know your body and skin so you can spot any changes in your skin or moles. You can do this by doing a monthly skin cancer self-exam. If you find any changes to your skin, such as growths or moles that have changed in size, shape or color, contact your MedStar melanoma specialist right away.
Perform a skin cancer self exam by:
- Looking at the front and back of your body in a full length mirror, if possible.
- Looking at your sides with your arms raised.
- Bend your elbows and look at your forearms and upper arms. Don't forget to look at your hands.
- Sit down and look at the front and back of your legs and feet. Remember to look between your toes and on the bottom of your feet.
- Check the back of your neck and your scalp. Try using a hand held mirror for a better look.
Perform the skin cancer self-exam regularly and you'll know what is normal and when to call your MedStar doctor if you see any changes in your moles or skin.
The "ABCDE" rule can help you remember these skin cancer warning signs. Pay attention to:
- Asymmetry: The shape of one half of the mole does not match the other.
- Border: The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
- Color: The color is often uneven with shades of black, brown, and tan. You may also see areas of white, gray, red, or blue.
- Diameter: The diameter is usually larger than six millimeters (mm) (the size of a pencil eraser) or has grown in size.
- Evolving: The mole has been changing in size, shape, color, appearance, or growing in an area of previously normal skin. Also, when melanoma develops in an existing mole, the texture of the mole may change and become hard, lumpy, or scaly. Although the skin may feel different and may itch, ooze, or bleed, melanoma usually does not cause pain.
Additionally, people at high risk for skin cancer should have their skin examined once a year by a dermatologist. Anyone of any skin tone can develop skin cancer.
For a physician referral, please call 410-248-8310.
Maryland Melanoma Center
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9103 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237
Skin Cancer at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
5601 Loch Raven Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21239
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