What’s Your Risk for Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is an important health risk that encompasses a wide variety of skin conditions. Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the impact of a skin cancer diagnosis. Knowing how often to visit a dermatologist for skin cancer screening depends first on understanding the individual risk. Early contact with a trusted dermatologist, like Dr. Goodman, is of particular importance for patients with numerous unmodifiable risk factors.
Modifiable Risk Factors
Sun exposure is the most important and controllable risk factor underlying the development of most skin cancers. The damage done to skin’s DNA and underlying structure by the sun’s UV light makes sun exposure a primary factor in both premature aging and cancer development in the skin. A light complexion and burning easily in the sun indicate the greatest risks due to sun exposure. Reduce sun exposure with protective clothing and sunscreens from an early age for the most significant risk reduction.
Smoking and exposure to other chemicals in the workplace can significantly increase the risk of particular forms of skin cancer. While changing jobs may not always be practical, using workplace safety equipment to minimize chemical exposure along with smoking cessation are two important steps towards health improvements that include a decreased risk of skin cancers.
Unmodifiable Risk Factors
While older age and male gender have been shown to correlate with an increased prevalence of skin cancer, this appears to be largely due to an accumulation of sun exposure. While future exposure can be reduced, a past-history of significant sun exposure cannot be changed, making it an unmodifiable risk for skin cancer development.
Older age can also be associated with a decline in immune system function, an important part of the body’s skin repair system after damage due to sun exposure. Conditions that lead to decreased immune function, including treatment for organ transplant or systemic immunosuppression for any reason, have been associated with increased skin cancer risk.
Inflammatory conditions of the skin are another important underlying risk for skin cancers. Conditions that affect the skin such as psoriasis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) alter both the skin’s general capacity to heal and grow normally as well as its ability to recover from damage due to sun exposure.
Healthcare as a Risk Reduction Measure
Risks should always be reduced but can never by eliminated. While there are a number of important signs to watch out for, malignancies of the skin such as melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma can best be distinguished from pre-malignant skin conditions by an experienced dermatologist. Include early treatment and detection from a skin care professional like Dr. Goodman as an indispensable tool in reducing the health risk posed by skin cancers.
Located in Roswell, GA, Goodman Dermatology provides skin care services for residents of Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Suwanee, Dunwoody, Canton, Cumming, and the Atlanta metro area. Visit the friendly and experienced staff at Goodman Dermatology to learn more about individualized skin cancer risk assessment, treatment and prevention services.