May is Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
The main cause is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, tanning booths, and sunlamps.It is one of the most preventable cancers. Early detection and treatment increase chances of cure. Skin cancer includes basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer; an estimated 2.8 million are diagnosed annually in the US. BCCs are rarely fatal but can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. An estimated 700,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
The ABCDEs of melanoma or for any mole are asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolution.(evolving or changing mole, like itching, scabbing and bleeding.)
Strategies for preventing skin cancer
- Use sunscreen with broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB)sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Limiting the time in the sun. Stay out of the sun as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage.
- Cover up with clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Use UV protected sunglasses.
- Monthly self-exams of the skin and yearly skin checks by dermatologists are recommended.