Actinic cheilitis, sometimes known as "farmer's lip" or "sailor's lip," is a precancerous condition related to cumulative lifetime sun exposure. The lower lip is most often affected. Individuals with actinic cheilitis often complain of persistent dryness and cracking of the lips. They will frequently exhibit other effects of sun-damaged skin, such as precancerous lesions on the skin called actinic keratoses and extensive wrinkling.A certain type of skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) develops in 6–10% of cases of actinic cheilitis.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma usually occurs on sun-damaged skin, especially in light-skinned individuals with a long history of chronic sun exposure.Squamous cell carcinoma requires treatment to prevent it from becoming too invasive. If it is caught early and treated appropriately, squamous cell carcinoma rarely spreads (metastasizes) to lymph nodes or to internal organs. However, if it is neglected, squamous cell carcinoma can cause tissue destruction or it may spread internally, causing serious health problems and even death.
Keratoacanthoma (KA) is a rapidly growing skin cancer usually appearing as a volcano-like bump on the sun-exposed skin of middle-aged and elderly individuals. Many scientists consider keratoacanthoma to be a less serious form of squamous cell carcinoma. Most keratoacanthoma cause only minimal skin destruction, but a few behave more aggressively and can spread to lymph nodes.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), also known as basal cell epithelioma, is the most common form of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs on sun-damaged skin, especially in light-skinned individuals with a long history of chronic sun exposure. Although it requires treatment to prevent it from becoming too invasive, basal cell carcinoma does not typically metastasize, or spread to lymph nodes or internal organs.There are several sub-types of basal cell carcinoma, including:Nodular BCC Infiltrating BCC Superficial BCC
Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, are small rough or scaly areas of skin due to damage from sun exposure. Some actinic keratoses can turn into squamous cell skin cancer, so it is important to perform self-examinations often and catch them early.
A solar lentigo (plural, solar lentigines), also known as a sun-induced freckle or senile lentigo, is a dark (hyperpigmented) lesion caused by natural or artificial ultraviolet (UV) light. Solar lentigines may be single or multiple. This type of lentigo is different from a simple lentigo (lentigo simplex) because it is caused by exposure to UV light. Solar lentigines are benign, but they do indicate excessive sun exposure, a risk factor for the development of skin cancer.
Sunburn is damage to the top layers of the skin caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Most commonly, the light source is the sun, but tanning beds and some intense heat sources, such as welding tools, can also produce a sunburn. The sunburn usually becomes apparent within 24 hours of exposure; the skin becomes red, warm, and tender, and the person may feel dizzy or ill. Sometimes the skin may blister and peel.Experiencing a sunburn raises the lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. Sunburn and sun exposure also increase wrinkling and other signs of premature aging in the skin. Even a tan is dangerous to the skin, as many doctors consider a tan to be an early sunburn. The best protection is to avoid the sun, especially during the peak hours of 10 AM to 3 PM. Always wear sunscreen on exposed skin with an SPF of at least 30. Additionally, it is important to know that you can get a sunburn through certain clothing and that tanning beds are a source of the same light that cause burns, premature aging, and skin cancer.
A mole (nevus) is a non-cancerous (benign) skin lesion that is made up of the color-producing (pigment-producing) cells of the skin (melanocytes). A mole that is present at birth is referred to as a congenital nevus. A dysplastic nevus (discussed elsewhere) is a mole in which unusual (atypical) growth is noted. Moles (nevi, the plural of nevus) slowly enlarge evenly in all directions. After moles stop growing (stabilize), they may persist or they may become smaller (regress) later in life. Sun exposure and family tendency (heredity) play a role in the development of moles. Moles may sometimes become warm or red in color (inflamed) or irritated by friction from rubbing or contact with rough clothing or by other types of injury.
Many dermatology patients will undergo a skin biopsy at some point during their lives, especially if they have a new lesion that could potentially be a skin cancer. During a biopsy, a sample of body tissue is taken so that a type of doctor, known as a pathologist, can examine the individual cells in the tissue under a microscope in order to make a more definitive diagnosis.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer found in humans, and greater than half of all new cancers diagnosed are skin cancers. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are respectively the first and second most common forms of skin cancer, and nearly half of all Americans who live to age 65 will be diagnosed with one of these types of cancer. These common cancers are usually found in the most sun-exposed parts of the body, appearing in the skin’s top layer as a scaly area or bump that doesn’t heal. They can occasionally bleed. If detected and treated early, these cancers have a greater than 95% cure rate.
Spend a day at the beach or pool, and you can’t miss the pervasive and unmistakable smell of sunblock products wafting through the air. Shelves in drug stores and supermarkets are crowded with “new and improved” potions, lotions, gels, creams, wipes, and sprays. But using sunblock only on beach or pool days isn’t enough. Make it an everyday habit – and not just a quick smear on your nose in the morning.
Sunscreens are an important part of skin care. These products reduce the risk of skin cancers, protect from photoaging caused by the sun, and prevent sunburns.
I've never had a skin cancer, but I've had a lot of sun damage and burns in the past. Should I see a dermatologist?
While you are having fun in the sun, don’t forget to protect your skin. Overexposure to sun is one of the leading causes of skin cancer. Make sure you keep that in mind while you are laying out by the side of the pool while sipping on your piña colada.