Summer is here, which means it’s time to get out and get some sun. It is also a good time to be aware of and proactive about proper skin care. The incidence of Melanoma has kept increasing for the last 30 years even though we have greater awareness. Both UVA and UVB rays are dangerous to the skin, and can induce skin cancer. Blistering sunburns in early childhood especially increases the risk, but sunburns later in life and cumulative exposure also may be factors.
Skin cancer is among the most common cancers in men and women in the United States and since it is preventable in most cases, there are things we can do to lessen our chances of getting it. The major causes are exposure to ultraviolet (UVA, UVB, and UVC) light from the sun, tanning beds, or sunlamps. Skin is the biggest organ and without proper protection it is at risk of getting cancer such as melanoma from sun exposure. Although basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of cancer in the Unites States, melanoma has a highest rate of mortality when compared to other two.
Melanoma is the rarest, but the most dangerous form of three common types of skin cancer. It often appears as an atypical mole that undergoes changes. Melanoma is a malignant cancer arising from pigment cells in the skin known as melanocytes. Risk of getting melanoma increases 7 folds due to tanning without proper protection. It’s estimated that 86 percent of all melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. While genetics and family history also play a role, a pattern of sun exposure is a definite factor in the majority of melanomas. Any one at any age is at risk but individuals whose skin freckles, tans poorly or burns easily should take even greater precaution.
Are you at risk? Check this list below to find out the risk factors
- Lighter natural skin color
- Family or personal history of skin cancer
- Excessive sun exposure
- Indoor tanning
- A history of sunburns, particularly early in life
- Skin that burns, freckles, or reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun
- Blue or green eyes
- Blond or red hair
- Certain types of moles
Take steps to prevent skin cancer!
There is no such thing as safe tan, therefore you must remember to take following steps to protect yourself during summer.
- Avoid direct sunlight, tanning beds, and sun lamps
- Wear sun screen and cover yourself completely, and reapply every two hours with at least SPF 30
- Wear protective clothing. A hat that covers your face, neck, and ears.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Don’t allow you skin to sunburn or peel. Damage has already occurred by then.
- Find shade when possible
- Avoiding outdoor activities during peak sunlight hours.
It is also important to check other areas of your body that have mucous membranes because they can also get melanoma. Melanoma in cheek, nasal cavity, anal region, and the vagina can occur even though their cause in these areas is unknown.
If you have had a mole removed but you being to see increased pigmentation and a mole that’s spreading beyond its initial footprint can be extremely concerning.
Learning how to distinguish between benign and malignant melanoma lesion.
Benign lesions tend to be round, with ever borders. Their diameter is constant and color tend to be evenly spread.
ABCD of dangerous mole and malignant mole
- Asymmetric -Malignant moles have asymmetric shape
- Border - Dangerous moles have Irregular borders
- Color - Malignant moles don't have uniform color
- Diameter - Danerous moles will be greater than 6 mm or the size of pencil eraser
- Evolving - Malinant moles will change in shape, size and color.
If there is a lesion that is evolving or changing, pay attention to new symptoms such as itching, scabbing and bleeding.