Skin Cancer Awareness Month May 1, 2021 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. As the weather warms up and we head outside to enjoy the sunshine, it’s important that we understand the risks of skin cancer and how to prevent it. We are bringing awareness to skin cancer because it is the most common cancer in the United States; however, our risk can be significantly reduced when we practice sun safety. In this blog, we will share some statistics about skin cancer and tips to reduce your chances of getting it.
Skin Cancer StatisticsHere’s what you need to know about skin cancer. These statistics are provided by The Skin Cancer Foundation.
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
- An estimated 207,390 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021.
- Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
- The 2 leading causes of skin cancer are the sun’s harmful UV rays and the use of UV tanning beds.
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent.
Reduce Your Risk of Skin CancerWhile those statistics may seem scary, it’s important to note that most cases of skin cancer are preventable and highly treatable when caught early. But, we must also mention that no one method will protect you completely. So rather, here is a comprehensive approach to ensuring that you keep your skin healthy. Practice these tips everywhere you go, all year round.
- Use sunscreen - Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. SPF (sun protection factor) is a number that indicates how much protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays. The higher the SPF number the more protection that you will get. As always, apply your sunscreen as directed and reapply every two hours or after swimming.
- Seek shade - Whenever you’re outside, try to seek shade — especially between the hours of 10 am - 4 pm. It may take some extra effort, but walk on the shady side of the street, find a tree to sit under at the ballpark, and bring an umbrella to the beach. While the shade can’t protect you 100% of the time (like the sun reflecting off of water or sunlight through the tree leaves), it’s still a good idea to find a cool, shaded spot to give your skin a break.
- Don’t use tanning beds - Using a UV tanning bed is one of the top risk factors for skin cancer. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, using a tanning bed before the age of 35 increases your risk of melanoma by 75 percent. For teens and young adults, peer pressure can play a significant role when choosing to tan. Now that you know that statistic, stand your ground and just say no.
- Wear protective clothing - Covering up provides an excellent barrier between your skin and the sun. Unlike sunscreen, it doesn’t wear off over time, so it gives you consistent coverage and protection. The more ways that you can cover up, the better off you will be. You should always protect your eyes, ears, face, and neck, so wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocked sunglasses. For the rest of your body, wear lightweight, breathable long-sleeve shirts and pants. As you shop for these items, look for “UPF” (ultraviolet protection factor) on the product labels. This number indicates the fraction of UV radiation that will reach your skin.
- Keep newborns out of the sun - Rather than putting sunscreen on your newborn, it’s best to keep them out of the sun for their first six months altogether. To do so, clothe your baby in long-sleeves, pants, hats, and sunglasses when going out. Don’t forget to put the stroller shade down as well. After six months, it’s safe to apply sunscreen to your baby’s skin.
- Put up window protectors - Even when you’re not technically outside, the sun can still find you through windows. While glass generally blocks UVB rays, UVA rays can still pass through. A safe option to protect yourself is to put a UV-protective window film on your windows in your car and at home.
- Examine your skin every month - Get in the habit of checking your skin every month. Educate yourself on what warning signs you should be looking for when doing a self-exam. If you notice a spot that is new, changing, or unusual, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to get it examined as soon as possible.
- See a dermatologist every year - Visiting your dermatologist at least once a year (or more if you’re at a higher risker for skin cancer) can truly be a life-saver. Doing a full-body, professional skin exam can help you regulate changes in your skin and spot issues before it’s too late.