Summer fun is in full swing, making this the perfect opportunity to discuss the realities and risks of skin cancer. 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70 – so it’s beneficial to pay attention, focus on prevention, and understand the facts about skin cancer.
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the outermost layer of our skin. Mutations of these cells can multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Skin cancer comes in 4 forms; basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), melanoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Skin cancer can look different on each person due to a variety of factors, and is caused by exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds. Fortunately, it is possible to treat many skin cancers when it is caught early, or even detect it at a precancerous stage.
Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer
- Avoid artificial tanning. Tanning beds, booths, and sunlamps produce harmful UV rays.
- Even on the hottest days, opt for long sleeves and pants in breathable fabrics like linen and cotton to help block UV rays.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shield your face, neck, and shoulders.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Daily application of sunscreen is necessary even on cloudy days.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when spending time out-of-doors, and more often when swimming.
- Seek shade whenever possible, and avoid outdoor activities in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its highest.
- Perform frequent skin checks. Examine your body in a full-length mirror, using a hand mirror to examine hard-to-see parts of skin. Look for moles that look new or unusual, dome-shaped growth, scaly patches, or sores that haven’t healed.
- Reach out to your doctor for more information about skin cancer, skin checks, and prevention methods. If you find a spot that concerns you, don’t hesitate to call!
When it comes to skin cancer, prevention, and early detection are key. Frequent skin checks and sun-safe habits can make all the difference in protecting your family from harmful UV rays. Take a few minutes today to check your body for any irregular moles or trouble spots, and give us a call if you have any questions.