How to Prevent Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most common, and also one of the most preventable and treatable, kinds of cancer. Since May is skin cancer awareness month, and also the start of summer, we thought it’s a good time to talk about how you can prevent skin cancer from appearing in the first place.

Skin cancer is caused by the abnormal growth of skin cells and develops most often on areas where the skin is exposed to the sun, but it’s not limited to those areas, especially in the case of Melanoma.

Skin Cancer Symptoms and Signs

Skin cancer primarily grows on sun-exposed areas such as the face, lips, scalp, neck, ears, arms, hands, chest, and legs. It affects people with any skin tones, not only those with fairer skin.

There are three different types of skin cancer. Here are the signs you should watch out for:

Basal cell carcinoma:

Squamous cell carcinoma:


Not all of these signs and changes mean that you have cancer, but it’s best to have it checked out as soon as possible.

Causes of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer occurs when mutations in the DNA of skin cells start to grow out of control and in an irregular manner. It usually begins in the epidermis, the top layer of the skin.

The following are known causes of skin cancer:

The skin darkens when it is exposed to the sun or tanning beds to protect itself. What you see as a nice tan is actually your skin’s injury response to excessive UV radiation.

Risk Factors of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer can affect anybody and any skin color whether you spend a lot of time in the sun or not. Even so, there are certain factors that make you more susceptible to getting skin cancer you should be aware of:

Treatment of Skin Cancer

Depending on the kind of skin cancer and the severity of the cancer, there are different treatments available. Your doctor will examine the skin and may remove a sample for testing, or just remove the suspect area completely. Here are a few common ways skin cancer is treated:

Prevention of Skin Cancer

Prevention is always better than cure. Follow these tips to keep your risk as low as possible:

Whenever you notice some kind of change in your skin, make sure you let your doctor check it out as soon as possible. It might be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Have a great summer!

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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