Skin Cancer: Get The Facts and Reduce Your Risk
Are you aware that skin cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer? In the United States, over 5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer annually. Although skin cancer is highly preventable and treatable, it can become very dangerous if not detected early.
Physicians Premier aims to contribute to the battle against skin cancer this Skin Cancer Awareness Month by sharing some skin cancer facts and suggestions on how to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Skin Cancer: Get the Facts
- Approximately 90% of nonmelanoma and 85% of melanoma skin cancers are directly linked to ultraviolet radiation or sun exposure. While the sun provides warmth and essential vitamin D, it can also be harmful without observing proper precautions.
- In the United States, over 9,500 individuals are diagnosed with skin cancer each day.
- Every hour, more than two people in the United States die from skin cancer.
- Worldwide, nonmelanoma skin cancer is responsible for over 5,400 deaths per month.
- Having more than five sunburns doubles your risk of melanoma.
- The 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99% when detected early.
- Regular use of sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) can reduce your risk of skin cancer by roughly 40%.
- Only 20 to 30% of melanomas are detected in preexisting moles, while 70 to 80% are found on seemingly normal skin.
- The sun is not the only source of ultraviolet exposure you need to be worried about. Indoor tanning, such as in tanning beds, can increase the risk of developing carcinoma by 83%.
For additional facts, visit SkinCancer.Org.
Skin cancer prevention
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to safeguard yourself and your loved ones from skin cancer. Staying informed is crucial. The sun and its UV radiation can be deceptive and may reach you even when you think you’re shielded from it. Sun rays can penetrate clouds and glass and reflect off objects like snow, water, glass, and sand. If you are planning on spending an extended period outside, consider wearing UV-resistant clothing, hats, sunglasses, and applying sunscreen. Other safety tips include:
Seek the shade
Remember to be extra cautious during peak sun hours, typically between 10 AM and 4 PM. If you plan on being outdoors during this time, bring an umbrella, and seek shade under awnings or trees. Try walking on the shady side of the street to minimize exposure to direct sunlight.
While applying sunscreen might seem simple, there are several things to consider to ensure adequate protection. Understanding the different types of sunscreen available and what they defend against is important.
- Broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Water-resistant sunscreen indicates that the sunscreen will still provide some degree of protection while swimming, usually between 40 and 80 minutes.
- If you have sensitive skin, you may want to use sunscreen containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, often referred to as physical or mineral formulas. These sunscreens are less likely to cause skin irritation.
- When preparing for the day, apply sunscreen to your face. Many daily moisturizers contain sunscreen, but if yours doesn’t, use regular sunscreen.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen. SPF 15 is usually sufficient for everyday use, but for outdoor activities, consider using SPF 30 or higher.
- If you plan on being outside for an extended period, apply 1 ounce (about two tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body. Reapply every two hours if you’re going to engage in strenuous activities or swimming.
- Don’t be hesitant to apply more sunscreen than you think you need. Most people don’t use enough sunscreen, often neglecting hard-to-reach areas or forgetting to reapply. When in doubt, apply more.
While a sun-kissed complexion may seem attractive, it can pose a real danger to your health. Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds.
While sun protection is the most effective way to prevent skin cancer, no approach is entirely foolproof. To detect potential skin cancer early, examine your skin every month, and seek medical attention if anything appears unusual. Look out for these signs:
- Sores that do not heal
- A change or growth in an old mole (such as color and size)
- New skin growths
- Dark bands across your nails
See a dermatologist regularly
Detecting skin cancer early is the most effective way to fight it. When identified early, most patients require only minimal, cost-effective treatment and have a high chance of survival. Scheduling a yearly check-up with a dermatologist is an excellent way to maintain your skin health. During the examination, the doctor will conduct a thorough head-to-toe assessment and will pay close attention to any difficult-to-see areas, like your scalp, back, buttocks, between your toes, and behind your ears.
Let the sunshine in…a little bit.
With summer approaching, the desire to spend all day outdoors grows stronger. The sun is a beautiful thing. Its warmth can lift anyone’s spirits, and there’s nothing like being outside in the fresh air. However, we should be careful. It’s projected that more individuals are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other forms of cancer combined, so it’s important to stay vigilant and be aware of skin cancer facts. Remember to seek shade, cover up, reduce overall exposure, apply sunscreen, and be aware of any skin changes. Although skin cancer is common, it is preventable. Keep these suggestions in mind, and we can all safely enjoy the summer sunshine!
“May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month!” Skin Cancer Foundation, https://www.skincancer.org/get-involved/skin-cancer-awareness-month/
“Nonmelanoma skin cancer,” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nonmelanoma-skin-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20355397
“Melanoma,” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/melanoma/symptoms-causes/syc-20374884
“Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics,” Skin Cancer Foundation, https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts/
“The Type of Sunscreen You Should Use, According to Your Skin Type,” Rose Inc., https://www.roseinc.com/blogs/education/types-of-sunscreens