Posts for tag: Skin Cancer
With the warmer months just around the corner you may be getting ready to plan some fun in the sun. The summertime always finds children spending hours outside playing, as well as beach-filled family vacations, backyard barbeques, and more days just spent soaking up some much-needed vitamin D.
While it can certainly be great for our emotional and mental well-being to go outside, it’s also important that we are protecting our skin against the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. These are some habits to follow all year long to protect against skin cancer,
Wear Sunscreen Daily
Just because the sun isn’t shining doesn’t mean that your skin isn’t being exposed to the harmful UVA and UVB rays. The sun’s rays have the ability to penetrate through clouds. So it’s important that you generously apply sunscreen to the body and face about 30 minutes before going outside.
Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Everyone should use sunscreen, even infants. Just one sunburn during your lifetime can greatly increase your risk for developing skin cancer, so always remember to lather up!
Reapply Sunscreen Often
If you are planning to be outdoors for a few hours you’ll want to bring your sunscreen with you. After all, one application won’t be enough to protect you all day long. A good rule of the thumb to follow is, reapply sunscreen every two hours. Of course, you’ll also want to apply sunscreen even sooner if you’ve just spent time swimming or if you’ve been sweating a lot (e.g. running a race or playing outdoor sports).
Seek Shade During the Day
While feeling the warm rays of the sun on your shoulders can certainly feel nice, the sun’s rays are at their most powerful and most dangerous during the hours of 10am-4pm. If you plan to be outdoors during these times it’s best to seek shady spots. This means enjoying lunch outside while under a wide awning or sitting on the beach under an umbrella. Even these simple measures can reduce your risk for skin cancer.
See a Dermatologist
Regardless of whether you are fair skinned, have a family history of skin cancer or you don’t have any risk factors, it’s important that everyone visit their dermatologist at least once a year for a comprehensive skin cancer screening. This physical examination will allow our skin doctor to be able to examine every growth and mole from head to toe to look for any early signs of cancer. These screenings can help us catch skin cancer early on when it’s treatable.
Noticing changes in one of your moles? Need to schedule your next annual skin cancer screening? If so, a dermatologist will be able to provide you with the proper care you need to prevent, diagnose and treat both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Too much exposure to sunlight can be harmful to your skin. Dangerous ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays damage skin, which leads to premature wrinkles, skin cancer and other skin problems. People with excessive exposure to UV radiation are at greater risk for skin cancer than those who take careful precautions to protect their skin from the sun.
Sun Exposure Linked to Cancer
Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma. To limit your exposure to UV rays, follow these easy steps.
- Avoid the mid-day sun, as the sun's rays are most intense during 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remember that clouds do not block UV rays.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand.
- Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps which emit UVA and UVB rays.
- Wear hats and protective clothing when possible to minimize your body's exposure to the sun.
- Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 to your exposed skin. Re-apply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and area around your eyes.
Everyone's skin can be affected by UV rays. People with fair skin run a higher risk of sunburns. Aside from skin tone, factors that may increase your risk for sun damage and skin cancer include:
- Previously treated for cancer
- Family history of skin cancer
- Several moles
- Typically burn before tanning
- Blond, red or light brown hair
If you detect unusual moles, spots or changes in your skin, or if your skin easily bleeds, make an appointment with our practice. Changes in your skin may be a sign of skin cancer. With early detection from your dermatologist, skin cancers have a high cure rate and response to treatment. Additionally, if you want to reduce signs of aged skin, seek the advice of your dermatologist for a variety of skin-rejuvenating treatment options.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. More that two million people in the U.S. are afflicted by skin cancer each year, and that number is only rising. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
Skin cancer can be deadly, but it is also very curable when detected early. Along with proper prevention and sun protection, you should examine your body regularly to check for any suspicious spots or changes as they develop.
When You Spot It You Can Stop It
Early detection of skin cancer can save your life. Self-examine your skin regularly, at least once a month, to look for unusual skin changes. Visiting your dermatologist routinely is also helpful, as they can do a full-body exam to make sure existing spots are normal. Regular self-exams should become a habit. It only takes a few minutes, and this small investment could save your life.
Warning Signs: What to Look For
By regularly examining your body, you can detect skin cancer in its earliest stages. Notify your dermatologist immediately if you identify any of the following symptoms:
- A skin growth that appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored
- A mole, birthmark or any spot that: changes color, increases in size or thickness, changes in texture or is irregular in outline
- A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed
- An open sore that does not heal within a few weeks
- A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness or pain
A suspicious spot may be nothing, but its better to be safe than sorry. Always consult your dermatologist or physician if you notice any changes in your skin that seem abnormal.
ABCD’s of Skin Cancer Detection
As a good reminder, follow the ABCD rule as a guide for detecting skin cancer. Any of the below symptoms warrant a call to your dermatologist.
- Asymmetry: One half of a mole or spot doesn’t match the other half.
- Border: The edges of a mole are irregular or blurred.
- Color: The mole’s color or pigmentation is not uniform and/or has shades of brown, black, white, red or blue.
- Diameter: The spot or mole is larger than ¼ inch or 6 mm, approximately the size of a pencil eraser.
Skin cancer can be life-threatening, but it is also very preventable and treatable. Start taking care of your skin now by recognizing the early signs of skin cancer and protecting your skin from the sun.
We all want to achieve a healthy tan. It makes us look and feel better, but that bronzed glow may not be as healthy as you think. A tan is your skin’s reaction to ultraviolet (UV) light. This darkening of the skin cells is the skin's natural defense against further damage from UV radiation.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), nearly 28 million people tan in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens. Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless, but this is far from true. Tanning beds emit UVA and usually UVB rays as well. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause long-term skin damage and premature aging (i.e. wrinkles, spots and sagging skin), and can contribute to skin cancer.
The AAD states that the risk of melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—is 75% higher among people who used tanning beds in their teens and 20s. Despite the known risks associated with indoor tanning these numbers continue to increase, as do the incidences of cancer.
Visit your dermatologist immediately if you detect any unusual changes in your skin’s appearance, such as:
- A change or an increase in the size or thickness of a mole or spot
- Change in color or texture of the mole
- Irregularity in the border of a mole
Protecting yourself from UV exposure is the best defense against premature aging and skin cancer. In addition to avoiding indoor tanning beds, you should also always wear sunscreen outdoors to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Remember to self-examine your own skin as well as have your skin checked regularly by your dermatologist.
Whether you acquire your tan from the beach or a lamp, it’s not safe and it’s not healthy. If you’re a regular tanner, it may be time to rethink your current stance on the standards of beauty. There are safe alternatives to a bronzed glow without risking your health.
Although moles are usually harmless, in some cases they can become cancerous, causing melanoma. For this reason, it is important to regularly examine your skin for any moles that change in size, color, shape, sensation or that bleed. Suspicious or abnormal moles or lesions should always be examined by your dermatologist.
What to Look For
Remember the ABCDE's of melanoma when examining your moles. If your mole fits any of these criteria, you should visit your dermatologist as soon as possible.
- Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border. The border or edges of the mole are poorly defined or irregular.
- Color. The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white or red.
- Diameter. The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- Evolution. The mole is changing in size, shape or color.
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, including the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles of the feet and even under the nails. The best way to detect skin cancer in its earliest, most curable stage is by checking your skin regularly and visiting our office for a full-body skin cancer screening. Use this guide to perform a self-exam.
- Use a mirror to examine your entire body, starting at your head and working your way to the toes. Also be sure to check difficult to see areas, including between your fingers and toes, the groin, the soles of your feet and the backs of your knees.
- Pay special attention to the areas exposed to the most sun.
- Don't forget to check your scalp and neck for moles. Use a handheld mirror or ask a family member to help you.
- Develop a mental note or keep a record of all the moles on your body and what they look like. If they do change in any way (color, shape, size, border, etc.), or if any new moles look suspicious, visit your dermatologist right away.
Skin cancer has a high cure rate if detected and treated early. The most common warning sign is a visible change on the skin, a new growth, or a change in an existing mole. Depending on the size and location of the mole, dermatologists may use different methods of mole removal. A body check performed by a dermatologist can help determine whether the moles appearing on the body are pre-cancerous or harmless.