As a dermatologist in Florida, I am aways promoting skin cancer education, but The American Cancer Society specifically promotes May as Skin Cancer Awareness Month. This month, I emphasize being mindful of the causes of skin cancer, getting annual skin exams, and discussing important skin cancer facts.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer, with more than 5 million cases diagnosed in the Unites States annually. It is most frequently caused by excessive intense ultraviolet sun exposure in addition to cumulative, chronic UV exposure.
The most common skin cancers are non-melanoma skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma is a more aggressive and potentially deadly form of skin cancer that has been on the rise for years. On average, one person dies from melanoma every hour! Thankfully, skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, and when recognized early, is almost always curable.
Research shows women are nine times more likely than men to notice skin cancer on others. Thus, screening your partner for new or changing skin lesions could save their lives. The importance of skin cancer screening becomes even more critical as we age and our risk of skin cancer increases.
Important tips to protect your skin:
- Seek the shade, especially between the peak hours of sun exposure (10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
- Cover up with clothing, a wide brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day! For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 50
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating
- Avoid tanning beds
- Do a self skin scan (and scan your partner) every month to assess for new or changing lesions
- See your dermatologist every year for a skin exam—or more frequently if you have a history of skin cancer
Regular skin exams are the key to prevention. Make your cancer screening appointment now! Contact Skin Wellness Physicians via our online form or call (239) 732-0044.