This May, we want everyone to take a little time to become better educated about what we can all do to prevent skin cancer. Our mission is to help the communities we serve become more familiar with the importance of early detection and the critical role you can play in spotting skin cancer and spreading the word.
Remember, when caught early skin cancer is one of the easiest cancers to cure.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.
Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either skin cancer at least once.
Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
Most common cause of skin cancer
Usually discovered in areas exposed to the sun
Rarely spreads, very rarely fatal
Anyone – people who are at highest risk have fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue, green, or grey eyes
Second most common skin cancer
Sometimes spreads to other parts of the body, but almost all cases are curable
Rarely appears before age 50
Majority of skin cancers in African-Americans are squamous cell
Accounts for less than 2% of skin cancer cases
Melanoma may develop as a new mole or in a preexisting mole
Causes the vast majority of skin cancer deaths
One of the most common cancers in people younger than 30
“It had been a few years since I had seen my doctor here at Dermatology Specialists. I know I am supposed to come in every year for my annual skin exam, but I hadn’t. During my recent exam, my doctor found a spot on my face that he said we needed to take a closer look at and that he wanted to do a biopsy, instead of just freeze this little spot off – so he did. A few days later, I got a call from him personally, letting me know that what they found was actually skin cancer. And in this case, it was melanoma. I have to admit hearing it was melanoma really scared me. He walked me through what his plan was for me and carefully explained how we were going to treat my melanoma.
Avoid Getting A Sunburn.
Every time that you get a sunburn, your risk for developing melanoma increases. For example, if you have been sunburned more than five times, your risk is doubled. And, avoid the peak UV hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or at least get some shade, an umbrella, tree, awning or a break inside.
Sun Screen. Oh Yes, Sunscreen!
Always use a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. And, for extended outdoor activity, always use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Also, make sure you apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside, and be sure to reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your scalp, tops of your ears and feet, as well the backs of your hands. In short, any exposed areas of skin sure would appreciate a little sunscreen.
Avoid Tanning Beds – Always & Forever.
Contrary to what some people believe, tanning beds are not a safe alternative to the sun, even in small doses. Tanning beds still emit both UVA and UVB light, typically in much greater concentration than you would receive from sunlight. Any time your skin changes color, it is a sign that your skin has been damaged, no matter what light source the color comes from. Our advice – just say “no” to this kind of glow.
Choose The Right Clothing.
Most people think that if they throw on a t-shirt they are protected. In reality, a white t-shirt provides the equivalent of SPF 4. Choose darker, tightly woven fabrics. Rash guards and UV rated clothes are a great options, as many offer sun protection. They are meant to be worn either in the water or outdoors, and they offer the added benefits of being both light and quick-drying. The use of hats and clothing that block sun, combined with an appropriate use of sunscreen, always provides the best sun protection. So, slip on a shirt; slop on some sunscreen; and slap on that hat.
Perform Routine Skin Self-Examinations.
Take the time to do a head to toe inspection of your skin regularly to spot any changes. Have your moles changed in color, shape, size or texture? Be sure to alert your doctor if anything on your skin looks suspicious.
Sunscreen is an Important Tool in the fight against skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends consumers choose a sunscreen that states on the label:
Means a sunscreen protects the skin from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet (UVB) rays, both of which can cause cancer.
SPF 30 or Higher
How well a sunscreen protects you from sunburn.
Water Resistant or Very Water Resistant
For up to 40 or 80 minutes. Sunscreens are not waterproof or heatproof and need to be reapplied.
One Ounce of Sunscreen, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body.