Fact: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Fact #2: Most people don't know how to apply SPF properly. Also a fact (and a bummer): Deadly skin cancers will continue to increase over the next 15 years. Basically, the sun + your skin = a really bad combination if you're not careful.
Now that we've thoroughly horrified you—sorry, not sorry—how about some cheering up? The good news is that the earlier you catch and treat it, the more likely your dermatologist can cure cancer—about 90 percent of the time, says Yale dermatologist, Mona Gohara, M.D. Small win! But before you roll your eyes and protest that you never use tanning beds or spend *that* much time outside, over-exposure to UV rays isn't the only factor you need to consider.
Here's a sampling of things that you'd be surprised increase your cancer risk:
For a complete list, check out the American Academy of Dermatology.
So, now you know what can cause this fatal disease, how do you spot it? First, we need to break skin cancer into its three basic types: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
BCC is the most common form of skin cancer and is often located in areas frequently exposed to sunlight (neck, face, hands, arms). Melanoma primarily refers to moles and it's the deadliest form of skin cancer. SCC is similar to BCC except it also includes cancer found specifically inside the mouth, on the lips, and around a person's genitals; it also usually stems from pre-existing conditions (like diseases or genetics). (*Pauses for you to absorb all that.*) We good?
A lot of their symptoms overlap—which doesn't *really* matter because despite which category you fall under, it's still skin cancer. We tapped into Gohara's expertise to find out which "little" signs could potentially mean big trouble down the road if untested:
If you cut it in half, do both sides match up? Asymmetrical moles aren't good.
Normal ones are typically smooth.
Anything bigger than, say, the size of a pencil eraser needs to be checked out.
Zits appear and disappear all the time, but if a translucent, pimple-like bump doesn't go away after a month or so, it's most likely not a pimple.
This one took us by surprise. Genitals—that normally don't see daylight unless, you know, you're chilling at a nude beach—with the virus can also develop squamous cells and lead to skin cancer.
This often refers to problems in the mouth (caused by smoking). Oral skin cancer falls under the SCC column, so please, DON'T PUFF THE TOBACCO.
These can also appear on your toes.
But there's a big difference between skin cancer and unrelated conditions like dry skin, psoriasis, or eczema even though these can all appear similar. Usually, areas affected by skin cancer are tender and won't respond to topical creams that most other ailments react to.
While these symptoms don't always 100 percent signify that you have skin cancer, you should schedule an appointment with a dermatologist juuuust to be sure. Because 1. Why not? and 2. f*ck cancer.
When I'm not stalking future-but-never-going-to-happen husbands on Facebook, you can catch me eating at one of NYC's B-rated or below dining establishments—A-rated restaurants are for basics. Fun fact: Bloody Marys got me into eating celery on the regular. And for your safety, please do not disturb before 10 a.m. or coffee, whichever comes first.
Prince Harry Is Worried About Archie and Lili Experiencing the "Online Harm" That Is Currently "Normalized"
He says the internet needs to change dramatically.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Prince William Sent a Heartfelt Message to British Soccer Player Who Came Out as Gay
Jake Daniels' decision will make such a huge difference.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Kate Middleton and Prince William Shared Rare PDA in the Bahamas
The footage popped up on TikTok.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe