It is skin cancer awareness month and we have news for you! Greatly decrease your chances of skin cancer by taking a few simple precautions without overly disrupting your good times this summer. Unfortunately, skin cancer is a real threat. As the most common type of cancer in the US and Canada, chances of developing skin cancer in your lifetime are 1 in 5, or rather 20 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. That is a significant risk when compared to breast cancer (12%), prostate cancer (7%), and lung cancer (6%). And, it is estimated that every year more new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed than the other three types of cancers combined. Enjoy your summer without stress by taking the following preventative steps:
The More Commonly Known
When it comes to skin cancer prevention, many of us are familiar with some of the more commonly known prevention methodologies and the most at-risk individuals. We know to use sunscreen every day and moisturizer with sunscreen, even in winter, and that people with fair skin, light hair, and light eyes are at greatest risk. Keep in mind that everyone is susceptible. We know to drink plenty of water, stay in the shade, and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol in direct sunlight. While such information is all well and good, truly preventing skin cancer requires a bit more lesser-known knowledge and insight.
Many dangers of contributing to skin cancer are often lurking in places or people you may not think of on a daily basis. One of such surprises is that people who have had organ transplants possess a higher risk. Even if you do not have fair skin, light hair, or light eyes, you could still be at a higher risk if you sunburn easily, have lots of moles, have freckles, or have a history of skin cancer in your family. Also, according to the US Health and Human Services Department, skin cancer is more common in people 65 or older, smokers, men, people with skin inflammation conditions, significant exposure to chemicals, genetically predisposed, radiation exposure, psoriasis treatments, and various types of HPV. And, do not forget to cover certain parts of your body that are often overlooked.
The Often Overlooked
It is so easy to overlook certain body parts and preventative care during daily activities. We are all guilty of this to a degree. Do not forget to protect your eyelids with sunscreen and your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses. Do not forget about lathering up your feet with sunscreen when wearing flip-flops, sandals, or going barefoot. The same can be said for your lips and ears. They need protection, as well. Going for a walk after dinner while the sun is still out? Grab the sunscreen or cover up from head to toe with a hat and a lightweight jacket and trousers or a skirt. Are you active throughout the summer from swimming and boating to running and golf? The same rules apply for all outdoor activities. And, do not forget to lube up even if you are sitting on a patio enjoying beverages or a casual lunch.
As with all types of cancer, when preventative measures are just not enough, early detection is essential to eliminating it once it is present. Each month, be sure to examine your entire body for moles with abnormalities or discoloration. Be sure to use a hand mirror to check those hard to reach places no matter how comical it looks to someone who might walk in on your self-examination. If you are unsure of a mole, take a photo of it to compare it to the next month’s self-exam. If you do have any genuine concerns, be sure to go to the doctor. It is also a good idea to incorporate a dermatologist visit into your annual preventative health care routine for a thorough and professional examine. They will be able to properly teach you the best ways to check for abnormalities, inform you of the most susceptible areas, and more quickly spot any issues. Again, the earlier you catch a skin issue, the more likely you are to win the war on skin cancer.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it is highly vulnerable to everyday dangers other organs avoid. As long as you are using sunscreen, avoiding direct sunlight during high-risk times, and checking your moles, you are likely to be part of the 80 percent rather than the 20 percent. And, as an added bonus by caring for your skin, in summer and winter, you are likely to look far younger than those who do not use sunscreen and spend too much time in the sun.