We spend the summer months in search of the perfect summer tan, but are you aware that tanning is one of the worst things you can do for your skin?
Melanoma Monday– One of the deadliest and most dangerous forms of skin cancer is Melanoma, which is a cancerous growth that develops over time to damaged skin cells. How do skin cells get damaged? Repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation or UV rays from either sunshine or tanning beds can trigger mutations that lead cells to form malignant tumors. Melanoma is caused by intense and occasional UV exposure, otherwise known as sunburn, and this is especially true for those of us who are genetically predisposed with sensitive skin.
These tumors are easy to spot, because quite literally they show up as spots on your skin. They form in the basal layer of the epidermis and are often mistaken for moles, or can develop from existing moles. These spots are normally black or brown, but they can also be pink, red, purple, blue, white or in some cases skin-colored. It’s important when performing self-exams to know your body intimately and know what looks normal and what doesn’t. When performing self-exams you can never be too cautious, and it’s important to remember to go with your gut feeling – if it feels wrong, it probably is. Many people dismiss moles or think they have always been there when they haven’t, so that’s why we stress the significance of knowing your own body.
Melanoma is deadly, and kills an estimated 9,940 people in the United States annually. If melanoma is found in its earliest stages and treated right away, it is almost always curable. Unfortunately, some people do not catch it in time and the cancer advances and spreads to other parts of the body and becomes fatal. Melanoma isn’t the most common skin cancer, however it causes the most deaths. Over 135,000 new cases of melanoma in the United States are diagnosed in a year with over 42,000 diagnoses in men and over 31,000 diagnoses in women.
Take preventative measures this summer. We’ve come up with some tips to make sure that you decrease your risk for Melanoma skin cancer.
- Seek the shade – especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Do not burn
- Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds
- Cover up – with clothing, broad-brimmed hats and UV- blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen – use an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Re-apply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
By following these tips you can enjoy the coming months and make sure that you don’t receive any unwanted diagnosis. Schedule an appointment at University Cancer Centers today for your screening.