Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer today. In fact, more skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the US than all other forms of cancer combined. Here you can learn about early detection and prevention of skin cancer to keep yourself and loved ones safe. You do not require a blood test or x-ray to detect skin cancer – just a mirror. Early detection is the best way to ensure successful treatment.
It is recommended that everyone should self-examine their skin head-to-toe once a month, detecting any changes in lesions, or moles, that may be precancerous. This is important because if skin cancers are detected early, they are almost always curable. Warning signs of skin cancer can be remembered by simple ABCDE characteristics:
- Asymmetry – The shape of the growth should be symmetrical. If one half does not match the other, it may be precancerous.
- Border irregularity – If the growth’s edges are notched, ragged, or blurred, the pigment may spread into the surrounding skin. This can be a good indicator of skin cancer.
- Color – An uneven color to a growth can determine precancerous cells. Shades of black, brown and tan may be present. Other colors of white, gray, red, and pink also may be seen.
- Diameter – If there is an increase in size of the growth, it may be necessary to seek medical attention. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than a pea (about ¼ inch).
- Evolving – The last characteristic is if the mole has had any abnormal changes over the past few weeks or months.
If you spot any of these changes during your self-examination, it’s important to see your physician, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon as soon as possible. Remember, if found in its early stage, skin cancer will most likely be treated without further complications. There are approximately 1.7 million cases of basal cell carcinomas; 325,000 squamous cell carcinomas; and 50,000 melanomas, but because melanoma can spread more rapidly than other skin cancers, this can be more lethal.
Preventing skin cancer is simple by taking a few precautions when exposing yourself to UV rays. It only takes a few minutes a day to increase damage from sun exposure, leading to skin cancer and sun-induced aging. However, if you live in Lake Mary, FL you shouldn’t have to avoid the sun altogether. Here are a few ways to prevent skin cancer from developing.
- Wear Sun-Protective Clothing – a simple t-shirt will not give you as much protection as you may think. It’s important to look for the special sun protection notice tag on clothing you purchase to make sure it will fully protect you from the UV rays. For example, clothing fabric by Solumbra was designed to block more than 97% of UVA and UVB rays, providing an all-day SPF 30+ protection for those who spend their days outdoors. For added protection, it is also necessary to wear a hat and protect your eyes with sunglasses.
- Applying Sunscreen – Exposure to UV rays is the only cause of melanoma that can be changed and prevented, so it’s necessary to apply sunscreen if you are going to spend your day outside. However, sunscreen can be anything but a perfect resolution. Most people only apply half the recommended amount of sunscreen and also fail to reapply sunscreen every hour. Remember to alter these common mistakes, and sunscreen can be a helpful tool for blocking out the sun’s rays.
- Protect in All Situations − It’s simple to remember these precautions for a day at the beach, but places with snow can also be a risk factor. Snow reflects sunlight, which increases your UV exposure. Children should be protected from the sun with these steps as well. Babies less than 6 months old should be kept away from direct sunlight at all times.
- Family History – Although the history of skin cancer in your family is unavoidable, monthly skin examinations is a good precaution to take. Also, it is recommended to get any moles checked annually by your physician, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon.
With these precautions and sun protecting products, you are taking all necessary steps for preventing skin cancer. Although not all skin cancer cases are avoidable, your best prevention would be limiting your time out in the sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for prolonged periods of time.