Posts for tag: Skin Cancer
During the much longed-for summer months, people work on their tans. While enjoying a richer skin tone now, tanners take huge risks for premature aging and skin cancer.
Sun and artificial tanning
It's what we use to get those tans. But, did you know that when you tan, you actually burn the top layer (epidermis) of your skin and damage your DNA, too?
According to Live Science, DNA damage mutates normal skin cells into cancer cells. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common kinds of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer as it easily metastasizes to major body organs. About one-third of melanoma cases in the US kill their sufferers annually, says The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Unfortunately, artificial tanning is just as dangerous as sitting in the sun. Intermittent sun exposure or occasional tanning in the sun or tanning beds are harmful, too. Damage to the skin is cumulative, and both kinds of ultraviolet radiation (there are UV-A and UV-B rays) breakdown your skin's DNA over time. Further, UV-B harms your skin's natural elasticity normally provided by a protein called collagen.
Don't tan: protect
To protect your skin, avoid sunburns, intentional tanning and excessive day to day sun exposure with these strategies from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD):
- Cover up any exposed skin (face, arms, legs, ears) with a broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeves and other sun-protective clothing.
- Use sunscreen lotion--SPF 30 or higher--on all exposed skin, and re-apply every two hours or whenever you sweat it off or swim.
- Stay indoors or in the shade from 10 am to 2 pm.
Also, all adults, particularly those 40 or older, should see a dermatologist for an annual skin exam. Do a careful self-exam once a month at home, looking for changes in the color, size, and shape of existing spots or moles. Report changes to your skin doctor as well as any sore which does not heal in a week or so.
It's your skin
Don't sacrifice its health for a little fashionable color. Tanning really is bad for you. Find healthy ways to enjoy the summer months and that wonderful sun. Your skin and your overall health will be better for your efforts.
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.
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.
Skin cancer is one the most common of all cancer types, which occurs when malignant cells are found in the outer layers of your skin. More than 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States. Although the incidence of skin cancer continues to rise, most cases could be prevented by limiting the skin's exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Skin cancers fall into two major categories: melanoma and non-melanoma.
- Basal cell carcinoma is rarely fatal and most commonly appears after the age of 40 in the form of lesions on the head or neck area, which may increase in size or bleed easily.
- Squamous cell carcinoma generally develops in people over 50 with sun-damaged skin. This is the most common form of non-melanoma cancer. These growths appear as flat and red, becoming raised, scaly patches.
- Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer, often occurring on the back in men and the legs in women. Risk increases with age, and the average age of detection is between 45-50 years old. It usually appears as a dark flat or raised area on the skin, and is often irregular in shape. Left untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body.
First step: prevention
The good news is that with early detection and treatment, non-melanoma cancers can be cured in over 99% of the cases, and melanoma is readily detectable and usually curable if treated early.
To start protecting your skin, limit sun exposure by seeking shade and always wearing sunscreen, even during the winter months. When possible, wear hats and sunglasses to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays. UV exposure is one of the biggest contributors to skin cancer, which includes tanning booths. People with fair skin, several moles or freckles, or a family history of skin cancer are also at an increased risk for developing skin cancers.
Early detection and self-exams can save your life
Many types of skin cancer grow slowly, while some melanomas can appear very quickly. Detected in its early stages, skin cancer is very treatable. Use a mirror to examine unreachable parts of your body or ask a family member or friend to assist you. Check your moles regularly for any changes in appearance or sensitivity.
Skin cancer may be one of the most common types of cancer, but it is also one of the most preventable and curable. Take steps now to protect your skin, and visit your dermatologist for regular exams and to have any unusual findings checked.