The wide world of skin cancer just got a little bit wider according to a study done by researchers at Brown University and the VA Medical Centers in Providence, RI and Oklahoma City, OK.
Actinic Keratosis, a type of skin lesion caused by an over-exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays, was once believed to only cause one type of malignant skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma. However, thanks to the study conducted by the aforementioned researchers and a report published in ScienceDaily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090602162000.htm), scientists believe that “Actinic Keratosis is responsible for a larger spectrum of skin cancers than previously thought”. Having only credited the lesions for the development of squamous cell carcinoma in the past, doctors are now saying that these UV-damaged areas on your skin can lead to basal cell carcinoma, the most frequent form of skin cancer in the US, as well.
Many estimate that nearly 40 million US residents suffer in some degree from Actinic Keratosis. That means that nearly 15% of us are at risk for these TWO types of skin cancer. Thankfully, if you regularly visit the doctor or (even better) a dermatologist, you’ll likely have these lesions removed as a preventive measure.
But given the current economic crunch we’re feeling, many of my fellow Americans may be skipping out on their annual medical check-up in order to improve their fiscal outlook. If that’s the case, let us tell you what to look for in case you want to do a little “at-home” skin exam.
When looking for signs of Actinic Keratosis, start my glancing at the areas of your body that attract the most sunlight: the face, neck, upper-back, chest, forearms and the back of your hands, looking for any patches of skin that are rough, reddening or scaling. But don’t just look with your eyes! Sometimes the lesions are easier to feel than to see, so run your hand over these selected areas, being mindful of any spots that may feel unusually rough, tender or scaly. (Those of us with fair-skin are much more likely to develop these lesions so make sure you do an extra thorough inspection!!!) If you feel or see anything of the sort, consider consulting your physician for a professional opinion. Hell, even if you don’t feel or see anything, consider consulting your physician anyway—the relief from a clean bill of health is always worth the money!
Even if you have one of these lesions RELAX, they’re precancerous, and it’s a quick and easy procedure to get them removed. But it’s even easier to prevent the lesions by wearing a comprehensive spray-sunscreen that targets both UVA and UVB radiation. So the next time you’re outdoors on a warm day remember to shield yourself from the sun’s UV rays, by coating yourself in a solid sunblock!