Lisa Conway – Hometown News

Q: I am a new Florida resident and love being outside. How concerned should I be about skin cancer?

A: This is an important topic, no matter the time of year. Skin cancer should be a concern to everyone who lives or vacations in our Sunshine State. Let’s take a moment to review some skin cancer basics.

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. Most commonly, skin cancer develops on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun, but it can also occur on skin that is usually covered.

The three most common types of skin cancer:

-Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs in sun exposed areas of your body. It often appears as a waxy bump, a flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion, or a bleeding/scabbing sore that heals and returns.

-Squamous cell carcinoma also typically occur on sun exposed areas of the body especially on those with lighter skin. Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as a firm red nodule or a flat lesion with a scaly and crusted surface.

-Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body. It may appear as a large brownish spot with darker speckles, or a mole that bleeds or changes in color, size or feel. It may look like a small, irregularly-shaped lesion, or a dark lesion in less exposed areas, like the undersides of your hands or feet.

Risk factors that may increase chances for skin cancer include light skin, blonde/red hair, pale eyes, history of sunburns, excessive sun exposure, living in sunny or high altitude climates, moles, family history, weakened immune system, and exposure to radiation.

Prevention is not that difficult. Make an effort to avoid the sun from 10 AM – 2PM and wear sunscreen or protective clothing (year around)! NEVER use tanning beds. Be aware that some medications cause sun sensitivity. See a dermatologist annually for a “spot check.” Detected early, skin cancer has a high cure rate. Untreated –it can kill.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.comLisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.