Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US. Every year, more than 5 million people are diagnosed with it. About 10% of skin cancers are melanomas, which are the most virulent form of the disease spreading quickly to other parts of the body.
People with fair skin are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, although they are usually diagnosed at an early stage when the disease is easily curable. People of color are less likely to develop skin cancer but are often diagnosed at a late stage when the condition is more difficult to treat.
The month of May has been designated Skin Cancer Prevention Month to raise awareness about the harmful effects of unprotected exposure to sunlight and what should be done to protect yourself against skin cancer:
Here are 5 tips to help prevent skin cancer:
- Always use a sunscreen lotion: When going about in the sun, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher. For extended periods of outdoor activity, use an SPF of 30 applying 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) over your entire body 30 minutes before your step outside and every 2 hours thereafter. If you are planning to take a dip in the pool, use a water-resistant sunscreen.
- Sun protection with clothing: Wear full-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect the skinof your arms and legs as well as a broad-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck. Melanoma can also develop in your eyes (ocular melanoma). The use of UV protection sunglasses will help safeguard your eyes to a significant degree.
- Stay in the shade: Avoid exposure to direct sunlight between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Itis during this time that the harmful ultraviolet rays can do maximum damage to your skin. If you must go outside, try to walk and stay in the shade as far as possible.
- Avoid tanning: There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Even the lightest tan is a sign ofskin injury which will increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Tanning beds are also to be avoided as tanning lamps give out harmful ultraviolet rays that damage the skin. Your best option to achieve the ‘bronzed’ look would be to apply ‘self tan’ lotions made from harmless vegetable dyes or temporary colors. However, it should be noted that such lotions do not provide any protection from the sun.
- When in doubt, have it checked out: Have yearly skin check-ups and be sure to ask yourdoctor specifically to examine any mole or skin lesion that is asymmetric, has irregular borders, does not have the same color all over, and seems to be changing or evolving. Most skin cancers are highly treatable if identified early.
At North Central Surgical Center, our mission is to treat each and every one of our patients, and their families, as if they were our own family member. Each patient, each family, each and every time.