Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin Cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and experts estimate that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Additionally, most skin cancer deaths are from melanoma. Diagnosis and deaths from skin cancer are on the increase. Most skin cancers are preventable and many of them are highly treatable.

There are precautions that you can take to lessen your chance of developing a skin cancer.

Because early detection can mean much better prognosis and treatment outcomes, scheduled monthly skin checks are essential. I don’t just mean a superficial look in the mirror. Examine your skin for new skin growths and/or for changes in existing moles and other skin features. Use a mirror to check out your scalp, ears, face, and neck. Look at your chest and your back and your shoulders. Examine your arms and hands. Take a long look at the front and backs of your legs. Look in between your toes and check out the bottoms of your feet. Even go as far as checking your genital area and bottom.

Notice anything new? Anything changed? Anything odd? Call your dermatologist.

Ultraviolet radiation is absorbed year-round, even in the winter and in overcast weather.  So, year-round sunscreen is a must. While sunscreens don’t filter out all of the harmful radiation, they do help diminish it. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 should be applied in the morning and throughout the day. Leave no exposed skin area un-sunscreened.

Along with sunscreen, protective clothing also protects you from ultraviolet radiation. Wear tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs. Those eyes need to stay protected from sun damage as well, so don sunglasses with lenses that block both UVA and UVB rays.

Stay out of the sun during prime sun time. Sun rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. avoiding outdoor time during these hours is to your skin’s advantage.

Avoid tanning beds; those lights have ultraviolet radiation. Also be aware that some medications can increase your skin’s sun sensitivity. Ask your pharmacist or doctor about side effects from the sun and take precautions.

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