It seems like cancer has become very common nowadays. It is spreading like some common flu or fever. Among different types of cancer, skin cancer has become a huge issue in USA, especially in recent years. There are more than 3.5 million new cases of cancer reported every year. Skin cancer forms basically in the tissues of the skin. Though melanoma, which forms in melanocytes, is the most common and dangerous, there are some other types of skin cancers like- basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, neuroendocrine carcinoma etc.
Though the frequency of death by skin cancer is relatively low (1000 per year), it is always better to prevent cancer rather than leading with it. As I have worked as an assistant of a dermatologist, I have experienced many cases of skin cancer. From my professional experience, I would like to share some tips to prevent skin cancer with you.
Make sunscreen your best friend:
Use sunscreen everyday. Don’t forget it in an overcast day or even in winter. Because UV rays are always present in the sunlight even if it’s intensity is low. Apply about 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen with SPF 15 or more to cover all over your body 30 minutes before exposing to sun. You need to reapply it after every 3-4 hours.
No Sun between 10pm-4pm:
That is when the sun’s rays are usually the strongest. The UV radiation is also the most intense during this period of the day. Schedule outdoor activities for other time of the day to protect your skin.
Protective Clothing and accessories:
Wear clothes that cover your arms and legs. You can use a hat and a scarf to protect your face. Try to carry and umbrella. It can give you much relief and protection in a sunny weather. Last but not the least; don’t forget a sunglass which blocks UV rays.
Tanning can never be safe. To get a nice tan and trying to make yourself look beautiful may be you are unknowingly leading yourself to the dangerous destiny of skin cancer. In my professional experience, most of the patients with skin cancer had said that they were used to tanning. If you use tan to get vitamin D, trust me it can be obtained from much safer sources like food and supplements.
Beware of Sun-sensitive Medicine:
Before starting to take a medicine, clearly read the instruction label and check if its sun sensitive. A little exposure of sun can make huge damage to you if you are taking a sun-sensitive medicine (like tetracycline or fluoroquinolenes).
Examine Your Skin:
Studies have found that melanoma deaths could be lowered by as much as 63% if people performed monthly self-exams. Use a full length mirror and carefully examine your skin to find any kind of abnormalities like- change in textures and colour of skin, a spot or sore that itches, change in the size and colour of moles etc.
If you have a history of skin cancer in your family, may be you are also at risk of it. The risks are also high for the children and teens that experience high sun damage, have fair skin, light eyes and hairs etc.
The Skin Cancer Foundation
National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention
American Academy of Dermatology