Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center’s area health centers in Canton, Hammond, Heuvelton, Madrid, Lisbon, and Ogdensburg will offer a county-wide skin cancer screening on May 11, 2017. Times and providers will vary by clinic. For more information or to schedule a screening, contact the Medical Center’s community relations department at 315-713-5251.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. In fact, more skin cancers are diagnosed in the US each year than all other cancers combined. The number of skin cancer cases has been going up over the past few decades.
The good news is that you can do a lot to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer, or catch it early so that it can be treated effectively. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Most of this exposure comes from the sun, but some may come from man-made sources, such as indoor tanning beds and sun lamps.
You don’t need any x-rays or blood tests to find skin cancer early – just your eyes and a mirror. If you have skin cancer, finding it early is the best way to make sure it can be treated with success.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer starts in the cells of the skin. There are 3 main types of skin cancers: basal cell skin cancers (basal cell carcinomas), squamous cell skin cancers (squamous cell carcinomas) and melanomas.
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are by far the most common cancers of the skin. Both are found mainly on parts of the body exposed to the sun, such as the head and neck. These cancers are strongly related to a person’s sun exposure. Basal and squamous cell cancers are much less likely than melanomas to spread to other parts of the body and become life threatening. Still, it’s important to find and treat them early. If left alone, they can grow larger and invade nearby tissues and organs, causing scarring, deformity, or even loss of function in some parts of the body. Some of these cancers (especially squamous cell cancers) can spread if not treated, and in some cases they can even be fatal.
Melanomas are cancers that develop from melanocytes, the cells that make the brown pigment that gives skin its color. Melanocytes can also form benign (non-cancerous) growths called moles. (Your doctor might call the mole a nevus.) Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body, but are more likely to start in certain areas. The trunk (chest and back) is the most common place in men. In women, the legs are the most common site. The neck and face are other common places for melanoma to start. Melanomas are not as common as basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, but they can be far more serious. Like basal cell and squamous cell cancers, melanoma is almost always curable in its early stages. But if left alone, melanoma is much more likely to spread to other parts of the body, where it can be very hard to treat.
To make an appointment for a skin cancer screening, call Claxton-Hepburn at 315-713-5251 and visit the American Cancer Society at www.acs.org to learn more about skin cancer prevention, screening and treatment. Your tomorrow is worth defending.