Before hitting the beach, learn the signs of skin cancer

With summer coming to a close, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology has published a new brochure to help the public understand the signs and symptoms of skin cancer as well as learn the treatment options for the disease.

Because the skin is exposed to sunlight and other harmful ultraviolet rays, it is susceptible to developing one of the three major types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The risk increases for people who have spent prolonged periods of time in the sun or tanning booths and in those who have fair skin.

While more than 1 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, skin cancer can be detected early by diligently checking your own skin on a monthly basis for any new marks or moles and consulting a doctor if you notice anything unusual. Talk to your doctor if you notice a mole that is irregular in shape, has uneven or ragged edges, is differing shades of tan, brown, black, red or white, or is more than a quarter of an inch in size.

“Skin cancer is very common, but it can be easily treated and usually cured if caught early. The best way to treat skin cancer is to avoid it by covering up and wearing sunscreen when going outdoors,” said Thomas Eichler, M.D., a radiation oncologist at CJW Medical Center in Richmond, Va., and the Vice-chair of the Communications Committee for ASTRO. “If you or a loved one is diagnosed with skin cancer, it’s important to talk about the best treatment options with several specialists, including a dermatologist, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist.”

For a free copy of ASTRO’s patient brochure “Radiation Therapy for Skin Cancer: Understanding Your Treatment Options,” visit http://www.astro.org/patient

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