Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US and is also the most preventable form of cancer. Greater than 90% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun. Although skin cancer can be easily prevented, most people don’t take the necessary precautions. As May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, here are 10 tips to prevent skin cancer:
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion when stepping outside your home even if the weather is cloudy. For the best protection, choose a sunscreen that has an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 and provides protection against both UVA and UVB radiation from the sun.
- Most people don’t use as much sunscreen as they should. You must use 1 ounce of sunscreen for adequate protection and apply it on your entire body about 30 minutes before stepping outside to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin.
- Reapply sunscreen lotion every 2 hours when staying out in the sun for extended periods of time.
- Stay out of direct sunlight between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. These are the hours when the sun’s rays are the most intense and can cause significant skin damage.
- Avoid tanning. Any kind of tan is dangerous to the skin whether it is from natural sunlight or from indoor tanning beds.
- Wear cover-up clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tightly woven dark clothing provides better protection than light-colored loosely woven fabric.
- Use accessories such as broad-brimmed hats and wrap-around sunglasses that provide added protection against UV radiation.
- Be aware of your family history. If you have a close relative who has had melanoma, a virulent form of skin cancer, you are 50% more likely to develop the disease and should be extra careful about protecting your skin.
- Studies show that a diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, A, and E; beta carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyphenols can help prevent skin cancer.
- Perform self-examination of your skin from head to toe every month and get a skin check-up by a dermatologist at least once a year.
These tips will help fend off the harmful effects of the sun’s UV radiation and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. Of note, 99% of all skin cancers can be cured if detected early. Consult your doctor or a skin specialist for an evaluation of any suspicious moles or lesions on your skin as soon as possible.
At North Central Surgical Center, our mission is to treat each and every one of our patients, and their families, as if they were our own family member. Each patient, each family, each and every time.