15 Mar How COVID is Delaying Skin Cancer Diagnosis and What You Can Do About It
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer both in the U.S. and around the globe. However, the majority of patients at Spectrum Dermatology do not initially book an appointment for a skin check or mole check. This quick and easy annual exam should be a priority for everyone, considering 20 percent of Americans will develop at least one form of skin cancer before they turn 20. Every hour, 2+ people in the country die from skin cancer, and if you’ve had 5+ sunburns in your life you have double the risk for developing melanoma—the deadliest of all skin cancers.
However, it is not all bad news. All skin cancers, when caught early, have a 99 percent survival rate 5 years after the treatment. A dermatologist catching and treating all types of skin cancer early is one of the two best ways to protect yourself. The other best practice is daily, routine, proper sun protection including applying and reapplying sunscreen, avoiding the sun when possible, and covering the limbs, head, and face when exposed to UV rays.
The COVID Complication
Most people do not schedule and keep their annual skin checks unless they or someone close to them has been previously diagnosed with skin cancer. However, the number of people seeing their dermatologist for a skin check is even lower in the past year due to COVID. In an era where we have been conditioned to only go out for the essentials, the number of patients seeing any of their doctors has declined. Skin cancer detection and prevention is absolutely a necessity, not to mention essential. If you have not had a skin check in the past year, it’s time to schedule yours today.
Spectrum Dermatology is fully reopened, and we have long been following all guidelines to ensure a safe and hygienic visit. Plus, there are now six locations in the Phoenix area for your convenience, including the new Sun City West and Glendale locations. It’s paramount to see a dermatologist in person for your skin check because there are many limitations with so-called virtual “checks.” For starters, many parts of the body are tough enough to examine in person, and nearly impossible virtually.
The Scalp and Skin Cancer
Monthly self-checks of the skin are important, but you can only see about half (or less) of your skin. It’s not unusual for skin cancer to develop in hidden areas, such as the scalp. Most people avoid putting sunscreen on their scalp because it can be messy and oily, but the reality is that your scalp is one of the most exposed areas to UV rays. In total, 13 percent of all skin cancers are on the scalp. However, just 1 – 2 percent are malignant, which can provide a little peace of mind until you arrive at your skin check appointment.
If you do not apply sunscreen to the scalp, and particularly the part with hair, it is imperative to wear a hat for protection any time you are exposed to UV rays. Otherwise, you are simply unprotected. Your dermatologist can recommend products specially designed to protect the scalp, such as sunscreen sprays that do not affect styling or aesthetics.
Types of Skin Cancer
Any type of skin cancer can develop on the scalp or anywhere else on the body. This includes the rarer but deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. There is also basal cell carcinoma (BCC), which is the most common type of skin cancer. It is also the most common type of cancer found on the scalp as well as everywhere else on the head and neck. On average, BCC makes up 41 percent of both benign and malignant tumors on the scalp.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is another type of non-melanoma skin cancer. It’s the second most common type of skin cancer, and one million people are diagnosed with it every year in the U.S. SCC can be dangerous and aggressive if left untreated. There are also rarer types of skin cancer, such as Kaposi sarcoma and Merkel cell carcinoma, that begin in both the hair follicles and glands of the skin. In total, they make up under one percent of all skin cancer diagnoses.
Start protecting your skin today and schedule your appointment with Spectrum Dermatology via our online booking system. It’s not too late to take better care of your skin.