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Preventing and Detecting Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is the most important preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Following these tips can help you protect yourself and your family from skin cancer.

Seek Shade Find a shady spot while enjoying the great outdoors, especially between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are strongest. No shade available? Create your own with an umbrella.

Sunscreen You should use an SPF over 30. Look for the words “broad-spectrum protection” on the label. Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Use at least one ounce of sunscreen to cover exposed areas of the body. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

Clothing Use a hat to protect your scalp, neck and face. Long sleeves and pants will also give you more protection. Tight knit clothing is better for blocking UV rays.

Avoid Tanning Beds Tanning beds are no safer than the sun. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people develop skin cancer because of indoor tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking.

Children Keep infants out of full sun. Dress your baby in lightweight, long sleeved shirts and pants. Use a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection to shade your baby’s face and eyes. Sunscreen should be avoided for babies under 6 months old if possible.

Children and teens need extra sun protection. Just one blistering burn as a child or teen nearly doubles the risk of getting melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Monitor your child’s time in the sun and be sure they are using sunscreen regularly.

Skin Cancer Detection

Melanoma accounts for about 1% of all skin cancers and it causes most skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. “Early detection of skin cancer often means more successful treatment,” says Tyler Elam, DO, St. Claire Family Medicine Morehead – North. Finding skin cancer early happens through regular skin exams. Have your healthcare provider check your skin annually and you should perform self-exams at home.

Get to know the spots, freckles and moles on your body so you can note if they change over time,” Elam suggests. If you have an increased risk of skin cancer, exams should happen more often. People who have had skin cancer before, have a family history of skin cancer or a weakened immune system have an increased risk of skin cancer.

What to Look For:

Use the ABCDE rule when checking moles:

Remember, only a healthcare provider can diagnose cancer. If you have a mole that displays one or more of the ABCDE characteristics, have it checked.