Summer is rolling in fast and so are the sun’s ultraviolet rays. With the warm weather comes monstrous amounts of outdoor activities that put us right in the line of fire – literally. You most likely put sunscreen on yourself when you go to the beach or the pool. But are you aware that you should put sunscreen on at all times of the day especially when you’re outside.
Being protected from the sun is a year-round job but even more important in the summer. When you’re on a walk, or working in the yard, or even just exposed to the sun through your office windows.
Exposure to the Sun’s ultraviolet rays or UV rays, is the cause for more cases of melanoma. Melanoma is known as the deadliest kind of skin cancer. Be vigilant in lowering your risk, and protect yourself from the sun. And always, ALWAYS, avoid indoor tanning salons.
Pack your bags for summer with a few easy tips to make sure you and your family stay safe by protecting your skin. Keep a bag handy with all the sun-protectant tools so you can grab and go whenever!
Some important things to pack—
- A lightweight long-sleeved shirt or cover-up.
- A hat with a wide brim that shades your face, head, ears, and neck.
- Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.
Quick Facts About Skin Cancer
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and includes different types.
- Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes.
- Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage.
- Anyone can get skin cancer, but some things put you at higher risk.
- The most common signs of skin cancer are changes on your skin, such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole.
One of the most common types of cancer is skin cancer. Over one million people are diagnosed each year. Most of them are not even aware how it is affecting their body and their life. With May being National Skin Cancer/Melanoma Awareness Month, there is plenty of information and campaigns to help inform you about how skin cancer is developed, the risks you take everyday and the treatment of various skin cancers.
So, What Should You Know?
More than 90% of skin cancer is caused by overexposure to the sun’s UV rays and is one of the most common of all other cancers combined. Skin cancer is considered a health risk, especially when having more than five sunburns is considered to double your risk of skin cancer. Treatment can be painful and physically altering, if not fatal.
Various Types Of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer has been separated in two categories, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Non-Melanoma skin cancer has the potential to be serious but often is much less like-threatening and easier to treat. The two types of non-melanoma skin cancers are:
basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma originates from cells called keratinocytes. When these cells become cancerous, they may form a localized lesion.
Melanoma skin cancer is a more dangerous form of skin cancer. Also referred to as the “bad skin cancer”. It’s one of the leading causes of deaths related to skin cancer. Fortunately, melanoma only accounts for only 1%. In 2020, an estimated 100,350 people were diagnosed with melanoma.
Unprotected exposure to UV rays is the main culprit for developing skin cancer. Although not the only culprit. Genetics have been studied to be 10% of the reason one might have a predisposition to skin cancer.
Other risk factors for skin cancer include:
- Having fair skin, especially those who freckle or burn easily
- Having many or abnormal moles
- Having a personal or family history of skin cancer
- Exposure to UV sunlight and/or tanning beds
In recent studies, researchers have found that the incidence of melanoma is continuing to climb. They’re finding out that despite the increase in sunscreen usage, the science shows that ultraviolet A rays can be equally as damaging as ultraviolet B rays. Unfortunately, only some sunscreens include coverage for UVA rays. Taking into account what people did before sunscreen was widely available to the public – it is recommended that the sun is avoided between 10am and 2pm. Use hats and umbrellas to help protect yourself and your skin from the sun’s exposure, if necessary. Use clothing to help protect your skin as needed.
Signs and Symptoms Of Skin Cancer
Noticing any new growths on your body is something that should be consulted with your doctor. If you’re looking at a new growth or possible new mole you’ve never examined, here is a guideline to help you detect anything unusual that might be signs of melanoma.
Follow the ABCDE guidelines – an acronym for:
- A is for Asymmetry: The diameter is not an even shape, or one half of a mole does not match the other.
- B is for Border: The edges are not smooth and are irregular or ragged.
- C is for Color: The color varies and may include colors of brown, black, pink, red, white, or blue.
- D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about the size of a pencil eraser), although smaller melanomas are possible.
- E is for Evolving: The spot or mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
If you suspect a suspicious spot, lump, or mole that could be skin cancer, talk to your healthcare provider. The positive side of skin cancer is with early detection it is highly treatable.
It’s possible that some skin lesions can appear similar to benign lesions to the naked eye.
Treating Skin Cancer
Treatment depends on the type of skin cancer you develop, in addition to the size and location of the disease. Normally later stages of melanoma have a poor prognosis but with advanced technology and new treatments like immunotherapy drugs. The survival rate has been much higher than past numbers. Even in the most advanced stages.
To help prevent skin cancer, not only is avoiding the sun crucial but choosing the right sunscreen is very important. Make sure to find sunscreen with the right amount of UVA protection as well as UVB protection.
Even though preventing skin cancer indefinitely is impossible, preventing it and being thorough in your examinations can help find it in its earliest stages can make a big difference. This could affect the cosmetic result from surgery and the risk that it may metastasize and lead to death.
Skin cancer signs can show up without warning and go undetected if you’re not looking for it. It may pay to have regular checkups! Pay attention to your skin!
- Monthly Self Exam: It is recommended that each person examine their skin monthly for skin abnormalities. Learning the ABCs of skin cancer can help you to identify areas of the skin that may be cancerous.
- Yearly Clinical Skin Exam: It is also recommended that people have a clinical skin exam every year by a healthcare professional.
The American Academy of Dermatology is using the campaign “Do You Use Protection?” to encourage people to use safe sun practices. When it comes to UVA and UVB exposure, it’s the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. With simple practices like wearing the correct water resistant sunscreen at 30+, wearing sun-protective clothing, staying in the shade – if possible, wear hats and use umbrellas to keep your skin covered, you can easily lower your risk for skin cancer in the future.
No matter your age, race, or gender, sun protection is a one-size fits all practice. Make sure to remind yourself of the importance of skin protection anytime you’re outside. Carry and have a bag with all your sun-resistant essentials handy, avoid being outside between the hours of 10am and 2pm, and always, ALWAYS wear sunscreen – inside or outside.
You and your future skin will thank you!
Do You Use Protection? Call Dr. Balshi at Balshi Dermatology in Delray Beach, FL for More Information On Skin Cancer Awareness
Skin cancer — the abnormal growth of skin cells — most often develops on skin exposed to the sun. But this common form of cancer can also occur on areas of your skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. There are three major types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting or avoiding exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Checking your skin for suspicious changes can help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages. Early detection of skin cancer gives you the greatest chance for successful skin cancer treatment.
To schedule a preliminary consultation about your skin questions and concerns, call board-certified dermatologist in Delray Beach, contact Balshi Dermatology at (561) 272-6000 or send us a message on our Contact Page to set up your appointment. We’re here to help you achieve all your skin care goals in 2021!