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Skin Cancer

Currently the United States is experiencing a skin cancer epidemic. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon combined.

Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is rapidly increasing in two age groups - women ages 20 to 30, and white males over the age of 50.

Sun protection, such as regular sunscreen use, along with wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves and long pants can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

Remember, indoor tanning is harmful too!

Everyone is at risk for skin cancer. Learn more about how to detect and prevent skin cancer.

Types of skin cancer

  • Melanoma
    • The most deadly form of skin cancer.
    • May suddenly appear without warning, but also can develop from or near an existing mole.
    • Can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the upper back, torso, lower legs, head and neck.
    • Frequently spreads to lymph nodes and most internal organs, making early detection and treatment essential.
    • New, rapidly growing moles or moles that itch, bleed, or change color are often early warning signs of melanoma and should be examined by a dermatologist.
  • Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma
    • The most common forms of skin cancer, and are referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers.
    • Arise within the top layer of the skin and can appear on any sun-exposed areas of the body, but are most frequently found on the face, ears, bald scalp, and neck.
    • Basal cell carcinoma frequently appears as a pearly bump and squamous cell carcinoma often looks like a rough, red scaly area, or an ulcerated bump that bleeds.
    • Spreads slowly, but if left untreated, it can lead to disfigurement.

Know the ABC's of Melanoma detection

  • Melanoma detection asymetryA - is for Asymmetry
    Moles with one half that looks different from the other half
  • Melanoma detection borderB - is for Border
    Moles with an irregular or scalloped border
  • Melanoma detection colorC - is for Color
    Moles that vary in color
  • Melanoma detection diameterD - is for Diameter
    Moles that are 6mm or larger (about the size of a pencil eraser)
  • Melanoma detection evolvingE - is for Evolving
    A change such as itch, growth or bleeding

Different types of sunscreen

If you can't avoid being in the sun, use a sunscreen to help protect your skin while you are in the sun.

Be sure to read the information on the sunscreen label about its SPF value and how much protection it gives your skin. Types of sunscreens include:

  • Creams - best for dry skin and the face.
  • Gels - best for use on hairy areas, such as the scalp.
  • Sticks - best for use around the eyes.
  • Sprays - sometimes preferred by parents since they are easy to apply to children. Use enough of these products to cover the entire area thoroughly, and do not inhale the spray.
  • Others - Some sunscreens are made for specific purposes, such as for sensitive skin or babies. Others are also available in moisturizers and cosmetics. Remember to re-apply for the best sun protection.

Regardless of what type of sunscreen you use, your sunscreen should be:

  • At least SPF 30.
  • Water resistant or waterproof.
  • Rated for both UVA & UVB.

How to use sunscreen

  • One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body. Adjust the amount of sunscreen applied depending on body size.
  • Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors.
  • Protect your lips by applying a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily according to the directions on the bottle.
Request an appointment online

Need to see a dermatologist?

  • Request an appointment online.
  • Call 406-238-2501 or 1-800-332-7156.
  • Schedule a skin exam appointment online with select dermatologists through the MyBillingsClinic patient portal.
  • Walk-in appointments are available on Wednesdays from 1 to 3 pm.
    (Walk-ins are occasionally cancelled. Please call 406-238-2501 or 1-800-332-7156 before you come in to confirm availability.)
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