Skin Cancer Information
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with millions of cases being diagnosed every year. It’s often caused by repeated sun exposure (or use of tanning beds), but it can also be hereditary, caused by exposure to certain chemicals or other risk factors. Fortunately, skin cancer is very treatable when it’s caught early; many types are slow growing and don’t often spread to other parts of the body.
The most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun. Be sure to wear sunscreen every day, and reapply at least every two hours when you’re outside. Make sure you use a sunscreen that protects you from UVA and UVB rays, and use a lotion instead of a spray for better coverage. Wear sun protective hats and clothing and whenever possible, avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. And skip the tanning bed completely; the intense UV light of tanning beds can significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer!
It’s also important to be aware of any changes to your skin. Be sure to visit your dermatologist at least once a year for a full body skin exam, and be aware of any changes to your skin. If you notice anything new, follow the ABCDEs of examining your skin:
- Asymmetry. Is one half of the blemish unlike the other half?
- Border. Does it have an irregular, scalloped or otherwise poorly-defined border?
- Color. Does it contain shades of black, brown or tan (or is it white, blue or red)? Is the color varied from one area to another?
- Diameter. Is it greater than 6mm across?
- Evolution. Has it changed in appearance or feeling? Does it look different from other moles or blemishes?
If you notice any of those signs, it’s important to call your dermatologist right away.