It’s never too early to learn about skin cancer.

That’s what Ahwatukee Skin & Laser manager Sarah Neumann believes, noting that most skin damage that leads to cancer occurs before age 18.

So her employees reach out to young people, especially teens who play soccer, baseball and football, since they can spend hours in the sun.

Neumann says she has donated gallons of sunscreen annually to such teams. In addition, some of her staffers ride around in a decked-out jeep and teach young people the proper use of sunblock.

“We are on a mission, a mission to spread proper skincare education and early detection of skin cancer,” Neumann said.

Bethany Cheatham, one of her staffers, has devoted her free time to educating local middle schoolers on the importance of protection from sun exposure, the dangers of tanning beds, and proper skin hygiene as well as acne prevention.

“We love our patients and our community and we try and do everything in our power to give back locally," she said.

“We sponsor skin cancer screenings, focusing on veterans and members of the Armed Forces,” she continued. “We donate time as sponsors of For the Dogs, an awareness campaign targeting responsible pet ownership and adoption.”

But Neumann’s main mission is to help Ahwatukee teens develop good habits that will protect their skin in later life.

“We try and do all that I can to help educate kids about the importance of proper sun protection early on,” she said.

The types of skin cancer

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the sun’s rays. Skin cancer affects people of all colors and races, although those with light skin who sunburn easily have a higher risk.

Here are the basic kinds of skin cancer, explained by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Actinic Keratoses (AK)

  • These dry, scaly patches or spots are precancerous growths.

  • People who get AKs usually have fair skin.

  • Most people see their first AKs after 40 years of age because AKs tend to develop after years of sun exposure.

  • AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms.

  • Because an AK can progress to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), treatment is important.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

  • This is the most common type of skin cancer.

  • Frequently develops in people who have fair skin, yet they can occur in people with darker skin.

  • Looks like a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump or a pinkish patch of skin.

  • Develops after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.

  • Common on the head, neck, and arms, yet can form anywhere on the body.

  • Early diagnosis and treatment is important. It can invade the surrounding tissue and grow into the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

  • Second most common type of skin cancer.

  • People with light skin are most likely to develop SCC, yet they can develop in darker-skinned people.

  • Often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens.

  • Tends to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, can grow deep in the skin and cause damage and disfigurement. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent this and stop SCC from spreading.

Melanoma

  • The deadliest form of skin cancer.

  • Frequently develops in a mole or suddenly appears as a new dark spot on the skin.

  • Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial.

If you think you might have one of these forms of skin cancer, call 480-704-7546 or visit ahwatukeeskincare.com.

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