With melanoma rates up 200% since 1973, it’s fair to say that skin cancer is a real threat. A recent video has been making its rounds online and the message is potent: to the naked eye, sun damage may not be readily visible, but under closer inspection, skin damage could be severe. Watch as passersby experience what is going on under the surface of their skin and just how much SPF can help protect you:
As you can see, age spots, freckles, and other discolorations come to the forefront under UV light, making the damaging effects of the sun startlingly obvious.
To reduce your risk of developing potentially fatal skin cancer, regular skin checks are necessary. Skin abnormalities may indicate squamous and basal cell carcinoma or melanoma and can be important warning signs that help with early detection and treatment. Self-examination is key and should be performed at least once a month to keep track of any changes or growths on your skin.
Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist if you notice any of the following:
- Any flat lesion with a scaly surface.
- A firm, red nodule.
- A pearly or waxy bump.
- A flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion.
- A large, brownish spot with darker freckles.
- Moles that changes in color, size, or feel.
- A mole or growth that bleeds when bumped.
- A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, white, blue, or blue-black.
- Dark lesions on body parts that typically get little sun, such as the palms, soles of the feet, fingertips, or toes.
As with most forms of cancer, early skin cancer detection is key for maximizing your chance of survival with treatment or removal. Typically, the sooner melanoma and other skin cancers are found, the less treatment will be required. Commonly employed skin cancer treatments include topical medications, excisional surgery, laser surgery, and cryosurgery (freezing).
The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to aid in skin cancer prevention:
- SPF is a necessity. Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15, daily. Clothing offers varying levels of protection, as do wide-brimmed hats that are marked as approved to block 100% UVA and UVB rays.
- Limit exposure. Avoid being exposed to the sun during “prime time” sun hours, between 10 am and 4 pm. If you are out, make sure you are taking preventative measures to protect your skin.
- Sunburn is more than a temporary pain. Do your best to avoid sunburn at all costs. Every burn increases your chances of developing skin cancer, with just 5 sunburns over a lifetime doubling the risk for melanoma
- Skip the tanning salon. You should never use a tanning bed. Tanning beds are unregulated and can expose you to more harmful UV rays than a full day in the sun.
The Parker Center wants to partner with you in the fight against skin cancer. We routinely consult with patients about preventive steps they can take to protect themselves from sun damage, as well as treatment options for sustained damage.