May is skin cancer awareness month
As a member of the bipartisan Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program®of the Prevent Cancer Foundation®, I want to share the following information as we observe Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
You may know about melanoma–the deadly skin cancer that more than 96,000 Americans, including 3,750 in Ohio, are expected to be diagnosed with this year. But what do you know about basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers? Although not as fatal as melanoma, these cancers are more common and can be serious and painful, so they shouldn’t be overlooked.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell cancers are usually caused by sun exposure and often develop on areas of the body that receive the most sun–the head or neck for basal cell cancer and face, ears, neck, lips and hands, or on scars for squamous cell cancer. Basal cell cancer can appear as reddish, itchy patches; small, shiny, pink or red bumps; pink growths; or oozing or crusted open sores. Squamous cell cancer looks like rough or scaly red patches (that might crust or bleed); raised growths or lumps, sometimes with a lower center; open sores (that may ooze or crust) that don’t heal, or that heal and return; or wart-like growths.
In the early stages, basal and squamous cell cancers are easy to treat, but if left to grow, you may need more invasive treatment that can lead to disfigurement, muscle or nerve injury, or even death.
Anyone can get skin cancer, but you’re at greater risk if you have fair skin, blue, gray or green eyes, blond, red or light brown hair, freckled or easily reddened skin, several moles (especially since birth), or a family or personal history of the disease. That certainly describes my husband, Congressman Bill Johnson, who has had three squamous cell cancers removed from his face and ear. So, trust me, it’s not a condition you should ignore, and early detection and treatment are important.
Protect your skin by using broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Wear protective clothing, hats and sunglasses and avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you notice any changes on your skin, talk to a health care professional.
To learn more, visit www.preventcancer.org/skincancer.
Editor’s note: LeeAnn Johnson is the wife of Representative Bill Johnson. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society and the Skin Cancer Foundation.