Skin Cancer: Risk Factors and Prevention
Everyone knows about the dangers of skin cancer. But not everyone understands that skin cancer is often payment for the sins of our youth. Cancer that appears on your skin is normally something that has been in the making for many years. It is an end result of a mixture of genes and behaviors that is peculiar to each person and the risk of getting skin cancer is directly proportional to certain risk factors that increase the odds.
Skin Cancer Risk Factors
Frequency of unprotected exposure to sun
Type of skin – fair skin has highest degree of risk
Sunburns we got as a child
Use of sunlamps and tanning beds
Cancer on the skin is a group of malignant mutated cells on the outer layers of the skin. A melanoma is the more severe form, because it can go below the outer layer. This makes it more probable, that if left undetected, it could spread into the body. The good news is that if caught early, any kind of skin cancer is curable. Detecting skin cancer is not difficult. It just takes diligence. The American Academy of Dermatology created the ABCDE rule to make it easy to remember what to look for on your skin.
Learn Your ABC’s – by ‘The American Academy of Dermatology’
A – look for an asymmetrical mole or a mole that is not the same on both sides
B – look for moles with an irregular border
C – look for moles that are an uneven color
D – look for moles that are larger than 6 millimeters (approx .25 inches)
E – look for moles that are elevated above the skin
If you discover any mole that looks suspicious, it is important to see a doctor right away. Like any cancer, early detection is the key to eliminating the skin cancer and preventing its spread.
Like most problems, preventing the problem in the first place is the best strategy. Though skin type and genes are major skin cancer determinants, there are things anyone can do to minimize the risk.
Avoid direct sun exposure, especially between 10 AM and 3 PM
Never use tanning beds and sun lamps
Use sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15
Wear protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses
A tan is actually damaged skin cells. It is the mutation of the cells caused by UVA and UVB rays (ultraviolet A and B) that creates cancerous moles. Ultraviolet rays are radiation, whether you get the rays from a tanning bed or the sun. Sunscreen lotions should be used regularly, but most importantly, they should be used all your life, from infancy to old age. If you get one or more severe sunburns as a child, it significantly increases the odds of getting skin cancer after 50 years old.
The sunscreens today are nothing like the greasy ointment-like lotions that used to be sold. Lotions today have important UV ray protection and moisturizers, and most are non-greasy. They are easy to apply and don’t stain clothes so all the excuses for not wearing sunscreen have been eliminated. There is a wide selection of sunscreen products for skin, lips and face. The best news is there are now effect self-tanning lotions available on the market. So if it is important that you have a tan, you can get one today without exposing yourself to dangerous skin damaging rays.
Tags: Skin Cancer, Health and Beauty