Skin cancer prevention is preached by medical professionals all over the United States. This is no surprise given that the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation reported more than one million Americans were diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in 2005. Despite the medical evidence available on skin cancer, our society remains focused on tanning beds and sunbathing without using the proper protection.
Skin cancer comes in two forms, melanomas and non-melanomas. Melanomas usually account for only four percent of diagnosed skin cancers, but they are considered to be the most deadly. Melanomas occur in the epidermis, the skin’s outer layer, usually appearing as a dark mole with uneven edges.
If detected early through skin cancer prevention, melanomas can be eliminated without causing harm. If ignored, these cancers can break away and spread to other parts of the body. Non-melanomas, on the other hand, are comprised of two different cell types, basal cells and squamous cells. Both of these cells are caused from sun exposure, but basal cells form in the lower epidermis while squamous cells form in the upper epidermis.
Preventing skin cancer is often associated with older generations, but today you see more teenagers and young adults spending excessive amounts of time in the sun. Without the proper protection, our society could see a surge in skin cancer diagnosis. Tanning beds are another cause of skin cancer and are often used throughout the year, not just during the summer months.
Proper prevention begins with knowing what you need to be sun safe any time of the year. If you have light colored hair and fair skin, you should be weary of exposing yourself to over indulge in the sun’s rays. You should also be aware if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with skin cancer because this could increase your chances of developing the disease.
Sunscreen is recommended as a form of protection against the sun. The American Cancer Society urges the use of waterproof sunscreen that has an SPF15 or more of both UVA and UVB protection. You should also apply at least an ounce of sunscreen for your body twenty minutes before going out into the sun.
Too often, individuals forget to re-apply their sunscreen after being exposed to harmful UVA and UVB rays. Also be sure to avoid the sun during 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. because this is when the sun’s rays are most intense. Staying unprotected in the sun during this time is when you put yourself in the danger zone for damaging healthy skin cells.
Proper skin cancer prevention should be practiced by everyone in your family, even babies. Doctors recommend babies that are six months or younger stay out of the sun. Teaching your children to be sun smart is important for their health too.
Find shady areas when you take them outside to play and be sure they have the proper protection on. Clothing is another way to protect yourself and your family from harmful rays. Wear hats that have wide brims to cover all areas of your neck, ears, eyes and scalp.
Skin cancer prevention does not mean you have to avoid the sun altogether. It just means you should be smart when you do go outside. Remembering to use a protective sunscreen all year is a great way to start your cancer prevention routine.
Know your skin and any marks or freckles so you can recognize abnormalities that may develop. The sooner you start guarding yourself from harmful rays, the better you raise your chance of avoiding skin cancer.