Despite the fact that sun tanning and burning increases skin cancer risks, most Americans don’t protect themselves or their kids from the sun’s damaging rays. As a result, skin cancer is the most common cancer, and the incidence of melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – is on the rise.
However, if detected early, skin cancer usually can be successfully treated.
Skin Cancer Symptoms
Be alert to any kind of change in a mole. The four most common and most significant signs of change are a mole or skin area that:
- Changes in size;
- Changes in color (typically gets darker);
Skin Cancer Risk Factors
Common skin cancer risk factors include:
- Fair complexion and light hair;
- A lot of moles;
- Blistering sunburns.
Many people who get melanoma will have had blistering sunburns in their teenage years, which is why it is important to protect your kids and teens. Sun exposure is the strongest risk factor and the one you can prevent by avoiding over-exposure to the sun.
Other ways to help prevent skin cancer include:
- Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and wear protective clothing. Re-apply sunscreen periodically;
- Avoid the sun during peak hours (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.);
- Avoid tanning beds.
“The ultraviolet radiation exposure of a tanning bed may be more risky than exposure to the sun,” said Dr. Kelly McMasters, ULP surgical oncologist and renowned melanoma expert. “Like the sun, they expose you to ultraviolet radiation. You keep adding more and more damage to your skin – just more quickly.”
If left untreated, skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body. That is why routine screenings are so important. If you or your child has any skin cancer signs or symptoms, see a dermatologist or your family doctor immediately. If you need help finding a physician, please call (502) 813.8585 or visit www.uoflphysicians.com.