03 Jan It May Not Be a Beauty Mark…Learning How to Prevent Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US; more skin cancers are diagnosed than all other cancers combined. Skin cancer is when skin cells begin to grow abnormally. Though it affects people of all races and color, lighter skinned individuals have a higher risk of developing certain types of skin cancer, especially if they sunburn easily. Some risk factors for developing skin cancer are beyond your control, such as your age, race, and family history. Even though there is no sure way to prevent skin cancer, there are some things you can do to decrease your risk.
Types of Skin Cancers
There are three types of skin cancers: basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell cancers are very common types of skin cancer. They are usually found on sun-exposed parts of the body, such as the head and neck. Luckily, these cancers are related to sun exposure, so you can decrease your risk by protecting yourself from UV rays. Early diagnosis and treatment is important for these cancers, and treatment can stop these cancers from invading surrounding tissues and spreading.
The deadliest skin cancer is melanoma. It can frequently develop in a mole or suddenly appear as a new dark spot in the skin. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to treatment of this most feared of skin cancers.
Only YOU Can Help Prevent Skin Cancer
Prevention of most skin cancers can be easy if you prepare before you and your family enjoy the outdoors. First, apply sunscreen! When you are going to be outside, even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. Your best bet is using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least SPF 30. Reapplying every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating, is just as important as putting it on the first time.
In addition to sunscreen, seek shade. Take a break under a tree or under cover between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can also protect your skin with clothing. Whether you are gardening or going for a jog, consider wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses whenever you are enjoying the great Texas outdoors. Water, sand, and snow are surfaces that reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun. Use extra caution near these elements which can increase your chances of sunburn.
If you want to look tan, skip the tanning bed and use a self-tanning product. The World Health Organization considers indoor tanning devices to be CANCER CAUSING AGENTS, just like cigarettes. Studies have shown that those who use tanning beds may have up to a 59% increase chance of developing melanoma.
Finally, check your skin for signs of skin cancer. On your birthday, get into your birthday suit and look for anything different and anything that has grown, changed color, or is bleeding. Look at yourself in the mirror, and don’t forget to look at the back of your body carefully Checking your skin and knowing your moles are key to detecting skin cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages. If you spot anything unusual, call me, Dr. Mai Sharaf, at 817-617-8650 for an appointment to get checked out.