For the past couple of years, facts and warnings about skin cancer have covered the pages of magazines and filled the evening news. But for as much as we are reminded of the dangers of skin cancer and how we can prevent it, it still remains the most common type of cancer, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States.
More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are reported every year. According to the American Cancer Society, 76,000 cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will be diagnosed in 2014.
Skin cancer may be the most prevalent type of cancer, but it is also the most preventable. Since the summer season is here, we want to remind you yet again, of what you can do to stay safe in the sun. When armed with the right information, you can still enjoy the summer sun while remaining cancer free! Here is list of prevention guidelines from the Skin Cancer Foundation…
Seek the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.: These are the hours when the sun’s rays are the strongest. You can enjoy your favorite outdoor activities in the early morning or evening!
Don’t burn: Kind of a no-brainer here, but each sunburn increases your risk for developing melanoma. Suffering more than five sunburns doubles your risk, so seek shade at the first sign of redness.
Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths: Lamps in tanning salons emit 12 times the UVR doses as the sun, damaging your DNA and unprotected skin. If you’re craving a little color, skip laying in a tanning bed and go be physically active outside, (while wearing sunscreen of course)!
Cover up with clothing: It’s hard to want to wear a lot of clothes when it’s 90 degrees during the summer. But even a simple, lightweight t-shirt can protect sensitive skin areas from the sun. Also, make sure to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and wide-brimmed hats to shade your face. The more skin you cover, the better!
Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day: SPF 15 sunscreen filters out 93 percent of UVB rays, and that number only gets higher with each increasing SPF. It’s important to wear sunscreen every day, year round, because it is still possible to burn in the winter or on cloudy days!
Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside: After two hours of being outside, sunscreen loses its potency. It is extremely important to reapply after two hours or after swimming or sweating. It is also important that you take the time to apply enough of the sunscreen to all exposed areas. Sorry but a quick, thin layer will not do the trick. Click here for sunscreen options.
Keep young infants out of direct sunlight to prevent sunburn: Babies are especially susceptible to the sun’s burning rays. Make sure to keep them covered with clothes and an umbrella or stroller hood. For added protection, smooth a little sunscreen on any exposed areas.
Examine your skin head-to-toe once every month: Start with your face, then move to your hands and nails, elbows, arms, underarms, torso and belly. Use a mirror to check your back. Don’t forget to check your legs and feet!
Look for skin changes of any kind: Cancer warning signs could be a spot that persistently itches, hurts, crusts, scabs or bleeds. An open sore that doesn’t heal properly in two weeks. A skin growth, mole, beauty mark or brown spot that changes color or texture, increases in size or thickness, is asymmetrical or irregular in its outline or border, is larger than a pencil eraser or appears after the age of 21.
See your physician every year for a professional skin cancer exam: Regular body checkups are the best way to maximize your health and stay cancer free!
For more information on skin cancer and what to look for, click here.