As the most common cancer in the United States, skin cancer affects the lives of millions of Americans. With May being Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like to share information on how to protect yourself against skin cancer, as well as identify its warning signs to ensure an early diagnosis. Your health is your greatest asset, and we’re here to help you maintain healthy skin throughout your lifetime.
Preventing Skin Cancer
UV radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. Since UV rays can reach your skin through clouds and glass, as well as reflect off of water, snow, and sand, it’s important to consistently protect your skin against radiation — not just when you’re outside on a hot, sunny day.
Follow these tips all year-round to shield your skin from UV radiation and lower your risk of skin cancer:
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day with at least SPF 15, or SPF 30 for extended periods of time outdoors. Reapply sunscreen every two hours if you’re swimming or exercising outdoors.
- Don’t use UV tanning beds and avoid tanning, in general.
- Wear hats, UV-blocking sunglasses, and clothing to protect exposed skin from the sun.
- Complete a self-examination of your entire body once per month.
- Visit a dermatologist annually for a thorough skin examination.
Warning Signs of Melanomas
Melanoma is a rarer, but more serious, form of skin cancer in which cancer cells develop in the melanocytes (the cells that provide color to the skin). You can follow the ABCDEs of melanoma to identify warning signs for this type of skin cancer.
- Asymmetry: Melanoma often has a non-uniform shape.
- Border: The borders of melanoma are often irregular or blurred.
- Color: Melanoma tends to have more than one color or change in color.
- Diameter: Melanoma lesions are usually bigger in diameter than a pencil eraser (6mm).
- Evolving: Melanoma tends to evolve over time in shape, size, or color.
Protecting yourself against skin cancer is important not only in May but in every month of the year, so schedule a skin examination with your dermatologist and make sure to slather on the sunscreen. These efforts will be well worth it for the health of your skin.
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