Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
This is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and it includes basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. These tend to be more common with age, and they are related to sun exposure.
Malignant melanoma is a much rarer but more serious form of skin cancer. Although this disease can spread, most cases are caught early, and it is a treatable illness.
45,000 men per year are diagnosed with melanoma; about 6,200 men will die from this disease every year.
The incidence of melanoma in men has increased 17 times since the 1950s.
Risk factors for Skin Cancer
1. Excessive sun exposure
2. Family history of melanoma
3. Fair skin and hair
4. Many large or irregular moles
Preventing Skin Cancer
As we say in Australia, “slip, slop, slap”
Slip on a shirt
Slop on some sunscreen
Slap on a hat
Screening for Skin Cancer
An annual check-up, including a skin exam, with a primary care provider is helpful for most men.
For men at higher risk, at least an annual visit with a dermatologist is recommended.
Symptoms of Potential Skin Cancer
Skin cancer usually appears as a painless mark on the skin, which appears different from others. It may bleed or appear to be an ulcer. Remember the “ABCDE” of suspicious skin lesions:
Asymmetry: an asymmetric lesion—bigger on one side than the other
Borders: irregular or blurred borders
Color: mixed or inconsistent coloring
Diameter: greater than 6 millimeters or ¼ inch (about the size of a pencil eraser)
Evolving: a lesion that is growing and changing over time
If you find a suspicious lesion, don’t panic. Even if it is melanoma, this is often a treatable illness. Many cases are treatable just by removing the skin lesion.