Melanoma & Skin Cancer Awareness Month
The warmth of the summer draws us to the outdoors, even during a pandemic. Whether gardening in the backyard, lounging in your personal pool, or playing outside with the kids, we put ourselves at risk of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This May, in honor of Melanoma & Skin Cancer Awareness Month, learn more about how you can protect yourself and your family from America’s most common cancer.
Facts about Melanoma & Skin Cancer
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are over 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the United States every year. Although extremely common, it is considered to be one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Skin cancer can occur as nonmelanoma, which covers a variety of skin cancer types, or melanoma, which is considered the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Regardless of the type of skin cancer, it’s become apparent that the majority of cases are the result of unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun – 90% of nonmelanoma, and 85% of melanoma cases.
How Skin Cancer is Diagnosed
Any form of skin cancer can be diagnosed by a physician through visual examination and a skin biopsy. If you notice a change in an existing mole or see a change in your skin’s appearance, it’s important to bring to up to your physician right away. A closer exam will allow the doctor to see if a biopsy is needed and, if so, the sample will be sent to a lab for proper diagnosis.
Skin Cancer Treatments
If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, your treatment will depend on the type and stage. If superficial, a simple biopsy to remove the growth is usually all that’s required. If it is found to be a more aggressive form of skin cancer or melanoma, or has spread to other parts of the body, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation may be recommended.
How to Prevent Melanoma & Skin Cancer
Preventing melanoma and skin cancer involves taking precautions against the sun’s harmful UV rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation provides the following prevention recommendations:
- Stay in the shade when the sun’s rays are particularly strong between 10am and 4pm.
- Avoid getting sunburned by staying out of the sun and/or using sunscreen and protective clothing.
- Use broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen that is SPF 15 or above every day. For days you intend to stay outside for an extended period, use SPF 30 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going outside, then reapplied every two hours after swimming or sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun and apply sunscreen to babies and children age 6 months and older.
- Examine your own skin every month, from head to toe, looking for any changes.
- See a dermatologist at least once every year for a professional exam.
This Melanoma & Skin Cancer Awareness Month, make skin care a part of your daily routine and encourage your loved ones to do the same. If there is a suspicious spot that has you concerned, visit us at one of our convenient Midwest Express Clinic locations for an exam. We will help you determine if it is nothing to worry about, or if it will require further exam and testing by a dermatologist.
For more information on how you can keep your skin protected this summer and all year long, contact us today.