According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer across the globe. The various types of skin cancer are often less talked about than other kinds of cancers, but skin cancer is not something to be ignored.
Caring for your skin and performing regular skin checks can help you prevent skin cancer. Prevention is possible by following certain lifestyle guidelines and getting a skin cancer screening by a board-certified dermatologist. How can skin checks prevent the development of skin cancer? Why are skin checks important? What are the signs of skin cancer?
Fast Facts About Skin Cancer
The Skin Cancer Foundation provides a wealth of information about the various forms of skin cancer, prevention and treatment. To demonstrate how prevalent skin cancer is in our country and beyond, consider the following statistics:
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the United States every hour.
- Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%.
Skin Cancer Checks
Most kinds of skin cancer are preventable. One way that you can detect the early signs of skin cancer is by performing regular skin checks on your own. By performing these exams, you can detect abnormal moles or other signs of skin cancer early. Early detection is key. Many forms of skin cancer respond well to treatment in the early stages. By performing regular skin exams and staying aware of changes in moles, you can prevent a deadly form of skin cancer.
Skin checks are easy to do and can be done in the comfort of your own home. With clean skin, examine your body from head to toe. Be sure to do this in a room with good lighting and with a mirror nearby. During the examination, look for dark moles or spots that are abnormally shaped. Also, check for moles that have changed in size or color.
While it is critical to check areas of the body that are exposed to the sun, it is also important that you examine some less obvious areas. The palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, behind your ears and in between your toes and fingers are other areas that should be checked during the exam.
If you notice a mole, spot or growth that appears irregularly shaped, or a mark that has changed in appearance, it is recommended that you contact your dermatologist for a full skin cancer screening and to have that particular spot checked out professionally.
Protecting Your Skin
In addition to checking your skin on a regular basis, there are other things you can do to protect your sick from the damaging effects of the sun. Sunscreen is the number one thing you should do every day before you leave your house. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. Apply it on areas exposed to the sun, including the tops of your ears, hands and toes. UVA and UVB rays can still reach your skin on cloudy days. Do not skip the sunscreen on days where the sun is not shining brightly.
In addition to sunscreen, take steps to cover your skin when outdoors. Hats, long sleeved shirts and umbrellas can prevent exposure to harmful rays and provide extra protection above and beyond your sunscreen.
While Vitamin D is good for us, too much sun exposure can be extremely harmful to our skin. Repeated sunburns enhance your risk of developing a lethal form of skin cancer known as melanoma. Be smart when outdoors by wearing sunscreen and covering your skin as much as possible. Perform regular skin checks so you can be aware of changes in moles right away. If you notice anything that seems irregular, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.
The leading Atlanta dermatologist, Dr. Straughn at Buckhead Dermatology, performs skin cancer screenings for patients every day. She believes that prevention and early detection and treatment is key to success. Contact the office today to schedule an appointment for your skin cancer screening.
Buckhead Dermatology has two convenient offices in Atlanta and College Park. Our board-certified dermatologist specializes in treating skin of color for skin cancer, dry skin, acne, vitiligo, DPN, eczema, keloids, melasma and many other common skin conditions.