Mona Khanna talks about the risks of developing skin cancer, how to detect skin cancer, and ways to help prevent skin cancer.
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Mona Khanna: Well, cancer itself is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. So skin cancer is cancer that happens in your skin, on your face, over your body, it can really happen anywhere and it does occur in different places for many people. We do have some particular risk factors also. What are the different types of skin cancer? Mona Khanna: The different types of skin cancer are squamous cell skin cancer, basal cell skin cancer and then of course melanoma. Those are the three main types and they're all related to sun exposure. This first two squamous cell skin cancer and basal cell skin cancer are usually in the face, neck, ear area because they're very heavily reliant on sun exposure. That's why it's so important to use sun protection. The third type of skin cancer, melanoma, is the one you hear most about because found early, it can be highly treatable, unfortunately, it's often found very, very late, and we often hear patients dying within three, six months after they've been diagnosed, that of course, is also related to sun exposure. Is skin cancer always caused by sun exposure? Mona Khanna: You can develop melanoma in non-sun exposed areas. In those cases, you often have risk factors like a family history of it, but that is less common in developing it in some exposed areas. What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer? Mona Khanna: What we usually tell people to look forward, we're talking about skin cancer, it can broken down into something very simple A, B, C, D, and E. The first is A, Asymmetry you look for a lesion that is not completely circular or completely outward, it has some asymmetric balance to it. The second is B, border, we look for Border Irregularity whether the border is jagged, whether it is not completely smooth, that's a risk factor. The third is color. We look for different variances of color within the same lesion, darker areas, lighter areas another risk factor. The fourth is diameter. We look for lesions that are bigger. Those are more alarming than those that are smaller, although it can happen with small lesions. Look for a lesion that is larger than the size of a pencil eraser that usually the baseline. And the last, of course, is E that can stand evolving or elevated. What that means is a lesion that is progressing and looks uglier and worse, or a lesion that's elevated. If you close your eyes and run your finger across your skin, if you feel it being elevated as opposed to the rest of your skin that's another warning sign. Do people feel sick when they have skin cancer? Mona Khanna: If you show signs after developing skin cancer such as melanoma, they would be very, very, very late stage. It would be things like not feeling well, over warming fatigue, fever, weight loss, that would be very unusual to have a skin cancer that would have that kind of severity that you would actually feel those kind of symptoms. What instead you see is you see a lesion that's growing and has many of those A, B, C, D, E signs and that's when patients going to see their doctor and say what is this. What we want them to do is going to see their doctor early enough when they see any of those red flag signs before it's too late to be treated. Are there risk factors for developing skin cancer? Mona Khanna: We know that there are risk factors for skin cancer and they're very well documented. The first is family history, if it runs in the family, you're at higher risk. The second is your complexion, if you have a fair complexion you're at higher risk because you have fewer of the pigment containing cells in your skin. The third is if you had severe sunburn as a child, we know now that, that's a risk factor, possibly because you have sensitized your skin to the effects of the sun. Now speaking about the sun, the next risk factor is going to be sun exposure. We're not talking about just the outdoors, we find the patients who sun themselves purposely in tanning salons and tanning boots, they often times have the i