We always hear about skin cancer. From how it develops, to increased risks, and of course how to prevent it. For some of us, it may seem like information overload. To help cut through all the information, we've put together this master list of things you absolutely should know about skin cancer. With this list, you can arm yourself with knowledge and be ready to avoid and tackle this monster.
The most common culprit in the development of skin cancer is an overexposure to the sun. The sun emits three types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is completely absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer. UVA and UVB, however, reach down to us here on the ground. Yet, studies have shown that UVB is the most harmful of the three. UVB directly contributes to DNA mutation which can lead to skin cancer. The more we are exposed to the sun without protection (i.e. protective clothing or sunblock) the more UVB rays our skin absorbs and the greater the chances of developing skin cancer
For those who love to get that sun-kissed glow via tanning beds, it's important for you to understand that, while it's relatively safe to enjoy a tan every one in a while, too many sessions expose you to more UVB rays in addition to the exposure you receive when you go out during the day. Remember, more UVB = higher risk of skin cancer. We recommend completely avoiding tanning beds, especially if you find yourself outside quite often. Otherwise, discuss with your dermatologist how you can get a sunkissed glow with self-tanners.
In order to prevent the development of skin cancer, limiting sun exposure by staying in and avoiding tanning beds will certainly minimize the risk, but what do you do when you have to go out? You apply sunscreen! When using sunblock, be sure it's SPF 30 or higher. Apply it every time you go out, regardless of the weather. And finally, be sure to apply your sunblock about 15 minutes before stepping out.
Those with lighter skin and hair have less melanin in their bodies. Melanin is responsible for pigmentation and also serves as a natural protectant against the sun’s harmful rays. Those with less melanin have little natural protection and can easily and quickly absorb harmful UVB rays, thus increasing the risk of cancer
The importance of skin cancer screening cannot be understated. While skin cancer is treatable, the success of treatment depends on how soon it begins, which means catching the development of skin cancer right away is crucial. Luckily it is a relatively easy procedure and can even be done on your own. Click here to find out more about skin cancer screenings and how you can check for skin cancer signs.
From Mohs micrographic surgery, to laser treatment, cryosurgery, and of course chemotherapy, there are quite a few options to explore for skin cancer treatment. The type of treatment chosen, however, depends on the severity of the disease and how far it has progressed. For more a personalized treatment for skin cancer, speak to a licensed dermatologist.