Given that May is National Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, and May 27 is Don’t Fry Day, now is the perfect time to discuss prevention and detection tips. And of course, share a fun video for good measure.
A Few Ounces Of Prevention
Skin cancers, both melanoma and non-melanoma, are largely preventable. With that in mind, which of these techniques are you currently using to prevent skin cancer? Which can you add to your repertoire?
Limiting your exposure to UV rays, especially during midday hours
- Wearing sunscreen year round (minimum of 15 SPF, UVA and UVB protection)
- Using protective clothing to block harmful rays
- Wearing sunglasses and hats with wide brims
- Avoiding tanning beds at all costs
Hopefully, you’re nodding a big ‘yes’ to all of them. And we encourage you to share with others. #LookingGoodIn2016
We realize that these tips are not exactly new. However, Dr. Perez, who works with skin cancer patients, hopes you take these sage, time-tested tips to heart starting this month—if you haven’t already.
Love (And Know!) The Skin You’re In
In addition to following the prevention tips above, you should get on the detection bandwagon, too. See a mole that’s changing color, shape or size during self-examination? We assure you, your doctor or dermatologist wants to know about it, and check it out.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are five indicators to be aware of during self-examination, aka the ABCDEs of melanoma (the most deadly of skin cancers):
A: Asymmetry (Is your pigmented spot asymmetrical?)
B: Border (Is your border clearly defined?)
C: Color (Does the color vary from one section to another?)
D: Diameter (Is your pigmented spot about the size of a pencil eraser?)
E: Evolving (Is it changing in size, color or shape?)
What’s the bottom line? No one will see changes to your skin quite like you will, so be sure to look. Often.
What To Look For
Melanomas are typically a mix of colors. Brown and black are the most common, though they can also be white, gray, red and/or blue.
The good news: Though potentially fatal, melanomas make up less than 1% of skin cancers. And caught early, they respond well to treatment. The not-so-good-news: Melanomas are on the rise—all the more reason to heed the prevention tips noted earlier.
Know Your Personal Risks
It’s not fair, but it’s true. Some people have a higher risk of developing skin cancer than others. So do you know your risk factors? Here’s a list, according to the CDC.
- Fair or lighter skin color
- Family history
- Previous skin cancer
- Sun exposure over time
- Previous sunburns, especially early on
- Previous indoor tanning
- Skin that burns, freckles or reddens easily
- Green or blue eyes
- Red or blond hair
- Certain types and many moles
If any of these risk factors sound all too familiar, an annual skin care exam by your dermatologist is a great idea. If you’ve been diagnosed with advanced skin cancer, call Sierra Nevada Cancer Center to make an appointment with Dr. Perez.