We won’t count them among the six, but the first and most surprising places where skin cancer develops is who develops it. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during his or her lifetime, meaning that you likely know someone with this disease. Skin cancer is by far the most common form of cancer, and if there is any good news at all, it is that skin cancer is the most preventable kind, too.
Sun protection, including hats and sleeves and a daily application of sunscreen, along with constant vigilance, including daily self-inspection and an annual, all-over skin screening from a board-certified dermatologist are the common-sense tools for preventing skin cancer.
These precautions are necessary, and yet not always sufficient, because skin cancer has a way of appearing in unexpected places, often but not always in places that are hard for us to examine.
1, 2, and 3: Starting at the Top
The scalp is a common locale for skin cancer to develop, not only because it is elevated and exposed, but also because the scalp is camouflaged for many of us with the hair on our head, and in many other ways hard to keep an eye on. The lips, too, are frequently the site for developing skin cancer, not only because they are so exposed, but also because the nature of their tissue makes it a little harder to notice gradual changes in color or texture.
In plain sight and somehow still not obvious, our hands can be the site of developing skin cancer, and for similar reasons. With their vigorous daily use, hands collect more than their share of bumps, bruises, marks, and momentary defects. So here, too, the changes that signal developing cancer can be hard to catch.
4 and 5: At the Bottom of it All
The feet are our next subjects for unexpected skin cancer formation. Feet can be out of sight, out of mind, and thus a hiding place for cancer to get a – please pardon the expression – foothold. Alternatively, sandals, flip-flops, and other sunbelt favorites can present the dual risk of offering sun damage a fertile ground and doing so in a region where the sun’s energy is unusually direct and intense.
The groin can also be a place for developing skin cancer, for any number of reasons, including lack of visibility for self-inspection.
6: The Paradox of Eyelids
Our eyelids offer skin cancer an easy place for developing because they are highly exposed, and because they hide when you try to look at them. Tender, sun-sensitive skin composes the eyelid, and no matter how close you get to a mirror, including a magnifying mirror, the eyelid goes away when you open your eyes to inspect.
One last pointer, before we depart the topic. Even with disciplined, regular self-examination, skin cancer can develop because it comes in several forms and presents a variety of appearances that, for most folks, can be baffling.
The View of a Professional
So, when we invite and remind folks to get an annual, overall skin inspection from a board-certified dermatologist, we are tempted to say, “Are you going to bet your life on your own ability to tell the difference between a mole, a zit, a freckle, and the opening act of a deadly melanoma?” If this sounds impolite or alarming, then we are sorry for that. And yet, the importance of getting these precautions firmly in mind is because skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, the most preventable, and most types are quite curable – so long as they are identified early.
Give us a call and let’s get acquainted. Put us on you team for keeping yourself and your family from becoming one of the places where skin cancer develops.