The most common type of cancer in the US is skin cancer. More than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually in over two million people. The leading cause of skin cancer is Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, with the most dangerous type of skin cancer being melanoma.
Every year, new cases of skin cancer keep growing that breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancers combined. In fact, over the past 30 years, more and more people have suffered from skin cancer compared to other types of cancer combined.
In the course of a lifetime, one in five Americans is at risk of developing skin cancer. Considering that UV radiation also comes from sunlamps and tanning booths, we need to work harder in preventing skin cancer.
Soaking up in the sunshine, having a healthy glow, and getting your vitamin D, all sound great. However, all these also increase the risk of skin cancer. But should one become a night owl? No. you just need to figure out how to enjoy the sunshine and protect your skin at the same time.
How to Detect Skin Cancer
The sooner doctors can identify skin cancer, the sooner treatment can be administered to increase the chances of cure. The excellent news, skin cancer is highly treatable when detected in its early stages.
To detect it early, watch your skin for any new changes, especially in texture, color, and growth. Monitor any existing or new moles:
· Asymmetry- are the moles uneven or asymmetrical in shape?
· Border – notice any irregular borders around the moles?
· Color- notice any moles more than one color?
· Diameter – a mole bigger than a pencil eraser should cause concern
· Evolved – has the mole gotten thicker or bigger?
If you notice any of these warning signs, have your doctor check it out. Do the same if you have a patch of skin seeming scaly, dry, and itchy, or if you have a sore that won’t heal.
What do Skin Cancers Look Like?
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) present themselves as raised pink areas on the skin that are crusted, shiny, scaly, or non-healing commonly on the sun-exposed surfaces of your skin.
Melanoma is typically black, brown, or multicolored. It often starts out as a flat spot and could stay like that for months or years, and then turn into a bump. You can develop melanoma anywhere on your skin surface, but the sun-exposed surfaces are the most common areas for melanoma. Don’t assume or neglect worrisome spots on your body, whether it’s at the bottom of your foot or behind your finger.
How to Prevent Skin Cancer
Even though skin cancer is commonly caused by sun exposure, remember that even on the cloudiest days, we’re still exposed to UV rays from the sun. Hence, it would be best if you protected your skin all-year-round. To keep your skin healthy and cancer-free:
Wear sunscreen daily
Don’t just reserve sunscreen for a long hike or a day at the pool. Apply sunscreen every day, whether it’s summer, winter, cloudy, sunny, or whether you’re indoors or out. Apply generous even on the areas mostly forgotten like the top of your head, top of your feet, your neck, and top of your ears.
Tan is skin damage. Using a tanning bed or laying out to get tanned is merely choosing to damage your skin. You can get a sun-kissed glow from countless drugstore products without having a single ray touch or damage your skin.
Choose Wisely When to be Outdoors
We recommend planning your outdoor activities outside 10 am and 2 pm. These are the peak times when the sun is most active. Try to spend as much time in the shade if you find yourself outside around these times.
Wear Protective Clothing
Lightweight clothing such as long pants and long sleeves can offer you extra protection from the sun. You should also consider getting sunglasses that block out both UVB and UVA rays, and buy a wide-brimmed hat. The reflection of the sun’s rays if you’re near water can be even more impactful.
To prevent skin cancer, be always readily prepared before going out in the sun to keep free of short-term burns as well as long-term damage. If you notice areas of concern on your skin, locate a dermatologist near you and have it checked.