May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month and Davis Dermatology would like to help increase public understanding of the disease by educating the masses on how prevalent skin cancer is and how to achieve protection from it. Cancer should always be taken seriously, and with over one million people diagnosed in the United States every year, skin cancer is one of the most common types which we can all help diminish.

Skin cancer can come in two forms: non-melanoma and melanoma. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) about 4% of cases are diagnosed with the more dangerous form of melanoma, which has tripled over the last three decades. Though also serious, non-melanoma is much easier to treat and less life threatening. As a whole, skin cancer accounts for 50% of all diagnosed forms of cancer and is the number one cancer killer of women ages 30-35. But there is good news- skin cancer is a lifestyle disease and is mostly caused by excessive exposure to the sun. Staying informed with the latest information on prevention and screening are important steps in reducing your risk of developing skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Prevention

  • Cover up – Clothing can be your most effective form of protection, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. The more skin you can cover, the better.
  • Apply Sunscreen – Apply a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen, with a minimum SPF of 15 (SPF 30 for extended activity), 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Reapply Sunscreen – It isn’t enough to apply sunscreen once daily. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Seek Shade – The sun is the strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM. An extra rule of thumb is the “shadow rule.” As your shadow shortens, the sun’s harmful UV radiation intensifies.
  • Do Not burn – Melanoma risks doubles if a person has had five or more sunburns in their life. Keep in mind that children are very sensitive to ultraviolet radiation, as one severe case of sun burning may have the same effect as many.
  • Avoid Tanning Booths – The more times a person spends tanning indoors, the higher the risk. Just four visits to a tanning salon per year can increase your risk by up to 15 percent.
  • Annual Checkups – See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
  • Check Yourself – Examine your body every month. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, call a doctor immediately. Here’s what to look for:
    • Rough and scaly patches on the skin.
    • Flat scaly areas of the skin that are red or brown.
    • A small spot or mole that is shiny, waxy, smooth in texture and pale in color.
    • A firm red spot or mole.
    • A sore or spot that bleeds, become crusty or doesn’t heal.
    • Any new growth that is suspicious

If you’re wary that a lump, spot, or mole may be skin cancer, contact Davis Dermatology for treatment or see your doctor immediately. When detected early, it is highly treatable.