(Provided by our NP, Katie Chase)
You might have seen our own Dr. Adler on NBC talking about Melanoma Day last week. Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, is usually curable when detected and treated early. Once melanoma has spread deeper into the skin or other parts of the body, it becomes more difficult to treat and can be deadly. The cure rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent, per skincancer.org.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Fortunately, it is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Here are some ways that you can keep yourself protected:
- Seek some shade – From May onward, the sun is practically unavoidable and strongest between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. If there is no shade available where you are, try to wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing.
- Don’t Burn! Just about everyone has experienced a bad sunburn at some point in their life. However, most people don’t know that your chance for developing some form of skin cancer DOUBLES if you have had only five or more sunburns in your entire lifetime! Simply put, DON’T go out without SPF.
- Avoid tanning beds – As much as tanning salons like to advertise that their tanning bed UV rays are “safe,” indoor tanning bed users are 74 percent more likely to develop malignant melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Tanning bed users are 2.5 percent more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 percent more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS use SPF – No more excuses! Apply sunscreen every day no matter how much time you’re spending outside. Most American adults assume they do not need to use it because they spend most of their time inside at work. The truth is that five minutes here and there adds up over the years, not only causing you to age more quickly, but also puts you at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. To get maximum protection, one needs to use broad-spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30. Most importantly, REAPPLY once every couple of hours.
Well, no one is perfect. If you get a sunburn that worries you, it might be wise to seek advice from your dermatologist or esthetician for some immediate intervention to avoid damages that might be very costly for you in the future. A skin cancer screening is an investment you won’t regret.