Skin Cancer: One of America’s Most Preventable Diseases?

Skin Cancer: One of America's Most Preventable Diseases?

One in five. That’s the number of chances Americans have to develop skin cancer. Seems like a great gamble, but not so, says the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF). According to the SCF, skin cancer is a lifestyle choice brought about by simple, everyday actions, including sunbathing and repeated, unprotected exposure to the sun’s damaging rays.

It is a disease that can be easily prevented with the proper knowledge and tools, and yet a recent report from the Skin Cancer Foundation estimates 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer will be reported this year, impacting families like yours across the United States.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) encourages Americans to do what they can to prevent skin cancer through their Skin Cancer Awareness program. The CDC discourages use of indoor tanning beds and provides information about how to protect the human bodies’ largest organ, skin.

Helpful Tips for Preventative Practices: 

  • Avoid being exposed to the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its peak and a sunburn is most likely to occur.
  • Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen or sunblock containing SPF 15, or higher, every 60-80 minutes, when you plan to be out in the sun. This includes short walks, bike rides, and 15 minute weeding sessions.
  • Reapply sunscreen after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Wear large hats, sunglasses and UV blocking clothing to decrease exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • Conduct monthly self-examination checks and visits a skin-care professional every year after the age of 20. Dermatologists can help catch the disease in its early stages.
  • Develop good skin care practices at a young age, as this is the best practice for healthy skin that will last a lifetime.

Symptoms

According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation (PCF), symptoms are not always easily detected. Close monitoring of moles, birthmarks, beauty marks and other dark skin spots is important.

See a doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Moles that have changed shape, size, texture or are bigger than an eraser.
  • Open wounds that have not healed within three weeks.
  • New spots that have occurred after the age of 21.
  • A spot or sore that itches, hurts or continuously bleeds.

The PCF provides a short video that gives viewers a guide for what to look for, as well as how to complete a thorough self-examination.

Skin Cancer Today

  • Today, women aged 39 and under are more likely to develop melanoma than any other type of cancer besides breast cancer, according to the SCF.
  • In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reassessed the harmful effects of indoor tanning and upgraded their classification from “probably carcinogenic” to “carcinogenic to humans” after taking a closer look at scientific evidence.
  • Starting at age 20, the American Cancer Society recommends yearly skin examinations.

Summary

Skin Cancer is a lifestyle disease that can be prevented by making minor changes to your daily routine, such as applying sunscreen or sunblock, wearing sunglasses and staying out of direct sunlight during peak hours. Monthly self-examinations and yearly appointments with a skin-care professional are the best ways to catch the disease in its early stages.

Learn more about skin cancer from these sources:

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