May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with one out of every five Americans developing it over their lifetime. But despite the astronomical numbers, skin cancer is a very treatable and curable condition. That’s why it’s so important that we take this opportunity to raise awareness and discuss the dangers of skin cancer, how to prevent it, and how to treat it if you do end up getting it.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
While so many people in the U.S. develop skin cancer, it is actually extremely preventable. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, approximately 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 86 percent of melanoma cases are caused by exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun’s rays. With all the sun and warm weather here in South Florida, there’s an even greater potential for skin cancer. Knowing the risk factors and employing good protection practices all year long are key to reducing your risk.
How to Prevent Skin Cancer
Preventing skin cancer is actually easier than you think. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends following these guidelines to ward off skin cancer:
- Try to stay in the shade, especially when the sun is at its strongest.
- If you do go out in the sun, don’t burn. Your risk for melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—is doubled if you’ve had five or more sunburns during your life.
- Always use a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day. For extended time spent outdoors, use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply one ounce of sunscreen to your whole body 30 minutes prior to heading outside. Be sure to reapply every couple of hours or right after swimming or sweating.
- Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection. Don’t forget to include a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Keep babies out of the sun. Children are extremely sensitive to UV light—just one severe sunburn in childhood doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life.
- Avoid tanning and tanning booths. Indoor UV tanners are an astounding 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never used a tanning bed.
Screening for Skin Cancer
While prevention is key to keeping skin cancer at bay, continuously screening your body for suspicious growths is just as important. That’s why you should carefully inspect your skin from head to toe every month, in addition to getting a yearly physical exam by a professional. It’s vital to thoroughly look over every inch of your body, including spots you might not think about, like your scalp, under your fingernails, and between your toes. Using two mirrors is essential and it’s always better to have a partner help you analyze those trouble spots that are hard to see. Using a self-exam body map will ensure that you’re consistently scrutinizing every part of your body. If you do spot a change in an existing mole or discover a new development that seems iffy, see your physician or dermatologist immediately.
Treating Skin Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with or think you have developed any form of skin cancer, the experienced team at Sanctuary Medical Center can offer you personalized skin cancer treatment options to address your specific concern. The exact form of treatment will depend on the type and severity of your skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma all require different approaches for relief. To determine which course of action to take, our skilled physicians will take a biopsy of the potential skin cancer to determine with type of cancer it is. From there, they will choose the best method to making you cancer-free.
Give to the Cause
There are many ways that you can aide in the fight against skin cancer. You can connect with the Skin Cancer Foundation and make a donation to help educate, prevent, and treat this all-too-common condition. You can also give to the American Academy of Dermatology in their on-going research and free cancer screenings with the SPOTme Skin Cancer Screening Program.
Of course, you can always rely on the knowledgeable and committed team at Sanctuary Medical Center to help you with any questions or concerns you may have about your skin. Please contact us to learn more about skin cancer treatment or to schedule your initial consultation today!