Skin Cancer Awareness Month highlights sun’s danger
of the sun’s rays take center stage in May for Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
more than 1 million Americans each year they have skin cancer, by far the most
common of all cancers. One in five people is expected to develop some kind of
skin cancer in his or her lifetime.
are a direct result of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, according to the
American Cancer Society. Both the common basal and squamous cell skin cancers tend
to be found on sun-exposed areas, and incidence is tied to lifetime sun
exposure. Melanoma, more deadly but less prevalent, also is tied to sun
Society for Dermatologic Surgery has a number of tips to help prevent skin
cancer as well as to recognize the danger signs early.
choose to have fun in the sun, you need to take precautions,” said ASDS
President Mitchel P. Goldman, M.D. “Skin cancer is too great a threat to be
dermatologists – experts in the health, beauty and function of skin – recommend
a three-fold preventive approach of protection, early recognition and
diagnosis, and screenings. Protection and prevention tips include:
- Reduce sun exposure. Minimize time in the
sun, especially when the sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Remember that indirect sunlight also can be dangerous.
- Apply sunscreen. ASDS member dermatologists
recommend applying a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least
30 and a broad-spectrum lip balm a half hour before exposure to the sun and
reapplying both regularly when outside.
- Wear appropriate clothing. A white T-shirt
only provides the protection of an SPF 4 sunscreen, so darker colors or tightly
woven fabrics – such as silk and polyester – are safer options. A wide-brim hat
can reduce exposure of the scalp, forehead, neck, ears and eyes by 70 percent.
- Avoid sunburns. An individual’s risk of
developing skin cancer doubles with five or more sunburns in a lifetime.
- Stay out of tanning beds. People who use them
at least once a month increase their risk of skin cancer by 55 percent,
according to studies, and the numbers are more ominous for people who begin
such tanning regimens in their teens or 20s.
detection and diagnosis tips include:
- Know the warning signs. Marks of suspicious
skin lesions and moles include asymmetry, jagged or irregular borders, color
variations, diameter larger than a pencil eraser or changes.
- Examine skin regularly. Look especially for
any new black-colored moles or changes in the size, shape, outline, color or
feel of existing moles.
- Know risk factors. People at higher risk
include those with fair skin and blond or red hair, have a family history of
skin cancer or of blistering sunburns, spend or spent a lot of time outdoors,
undergo indoor tanning or have many moles.
- Seek medical help. People who discover suspicious
lesions or are concerned about a mole or lesion should consult a dermatologist.
“It is human
nature for people to want to enjoy the sun,” Goldman said. “Just as with
everything else, though, moderation is needed. Restraint, taking proper
precautions and being alert to changes in the skin are key to lessening the
prevalence of skin cancer and finding any cancers early, when they are more
ASDS has a
wealth of information on skin cancer, including do’s and don’ts, treatments,
myths and the Sun Safe Soccer and Sun Safe Surfing programs. Visit asds.net/SkinCancerInformation.aspx.