Do you know what the most common cancer is? Skin cancer. With summer right around the corner we are making it our mission to get the word out on how to prevent skin cancer, what to look for and the different types. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than there are prostate, lung and colon cancer diagnosis.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the most common way to get skin cancer. While we know that sitting and tanning may be tempting, too much exposure is harmful to your health. The only way to battle back against skin cancer is to be as knowledgeable as possible, and spread awareness to each and every loved one so they know what they’re getting into when they sit in the sun too long. Tanning booths are also a hot spot (no pun intended) for skin cancer as booths contain UV radiation and sunlamps.
One of the great things about spreading skin cancer awareness is that it can almost always be cured if found in its earliest stages. Families, health professionals and communities are working together, especially during the month of May to shed light on skin cancer awareness.
Types of Skin Cancer
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer within their lifetime. Each year nearly 5 million cases are diagnosed in the United States, and treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers increased by nearly 77 percent.
Melanoma is the deadliest of the skin cancers. Over 100,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed. The symptoms include brown or black skin lesions with irregularities in symmetry, border and coloration. When performing self-exams, if you see any moles or discolorations that are consistent with melanoma, it is safest to notify your physician and get a biopsy performed right away.
Non-melanoma cancers usually begin with rough red or pink scaly patches on sun-exposed skin called actinic keratosis. We most commonly know this as sunburns. If a person gets enough sunburns in their lives it can lead to a higher chance of skin cancer. When performing self-exams look for any skin lesions that were not previously there and be sure to alert your physician and go for regular screenings.
Skin cancers usually start in areas of the skin that have been exposed repeatedly. The face, ears, back of the neck and bald areas are the most common areas. However, if you spend an excessive amount of time in the sun the back, chest or extremities are also places where skin cancer can develop.
How Can You Help?
- Encourage healthy sun habits, like wearing sunscreen and being conscious about how much time you spend in the sun
- Wear clothing that covers sensitive areas of your body
- Encourage teachers to teach kids about the harmful effects of UV rays
- Participate in community events
- Perform regular self-exams, and if you notice anything suspicious visit your physician immediately
Remember, May is skin cancer awareness month, and by doing your part to inform friends and family about the dangers of UV radiation you can save a life. Contact Us and Visit at University Cancer Centers near you to get more information about prevention.