Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than two million people are diagnosed per year, with the total number of cancers found averaging around 3.5 million. That’s more cases per year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers combined. The numbers are frightening, but there is good news — there is much that you can do to prevent skin cancer. Even if you do get a diagnosis, there is much that we can do for you, here at Dermatology Associates P.C.
Let’s talk prevention. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It’s your shell and your armor, in many ways, so taking care of and protecting it is important. It’s actually very easy to protect your skin and prevent skin cancer.
First, always use a sunscreen with SPF when you are going to be outside, even on days that are overcast. Everyone knows that SPF 15 is the guideline, but the American Academy of Dermatology recently began recommending a minimum of SPF 30. Find an SPF lotion or spray that offers broad spectrum protection and is also waterproof, especially if you will be swimming or exercising — and always reapply! Sunscreen is available everywhere, and it’s one of the best things you can do for prevention.
Avoid or limit direct sun exposure when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. The American Cancer Society recommends you use “the Shadow Rule” as a guide: if your shadow is shorter than you are, then sun’s rays are at their strongest.
The American Cancer Society also offers another easy to remember method of prevention: Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap:
- Slip on a shirt: Cover your skin when you are in the sun. Wear comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabric for the best protection.
- Slop on sunscreen: Apply your SPF 30 or higher sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outside. About a palmful should be enough to cover your entire body. Remember to apply to easily forgotten areas like your ears and neck, and reapply every two hours — or more if swimming, sweating excessively, or toweling off. And don’t forget your lips! Carry an SPF lip balm and reapply often.
- Slap on a hat: Choose a hat that shades your face, ears, and neck, if possible.
- Wrap on sunglasses: Use sunglasses that have 100 percent UVA and UVB absorption to protect your eyes and the delicate skin surrounding them.
It’s best to avoid using tanning beds and tanning booths entirely. While many proclaim safe use, the Centers for Disease Control recently stated that indoor tanning simply is not safe. There is no such thing as a safe or base tan, and concentrated UV exposure is dangerous.
Perform a self skin check every month or so, and if you notice anything troubling or new, make an appointment with one of our dermatologists for a more thorough exam. If anything problematic is found, you can trust that you are in safe and capable hands here at Dermatology Associates P.C.
Because our offices are equipped with surgical suites, we can perform most biopsies and excisions right on site so you get your results that much faster. We also have a double board-certified (Dermatology and Dermatopathology) dermatopathologist in-house, so your results will be read, diagnosed, and treated in the same practice.
For more information about skin cancer prevention, detection, and treatment, call one of our offices today. We are here to help.