Whether you hit the beach, pool or a lounge chair in your backyard, soaking up the sun is the greatest attraction of the summertime. We wait for what seems like forever for the snow to melt and sun to shine. When we finally get the chance to put on our bikinis and head outside, our thoughts are not on the long-term effects of the ultraviolet (UV) rays that can be damaging to our skin.
Fact 1: Skin cancer is scary business
Let’s take a look at some statistics from www.skincancer.org to see just how terrifying it can be:
- Every year there are more new cases of diagnosed skin cancer than breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer COMBINED.
- About 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers can be traced back to exposure to the sun’s UV radiation.
- One person dies from melanoma EVERY hour.
- A person’s risk for melanoma DOUBLES after five sunburns.
- Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen.
These are some pretty staggering facts. They are also the key reasons why we should be diligent in our daily sun protection regiment.
Fact 2: Not all skin cancer is the same
The truth is, there are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
- The most common of the three is basal cell carcinoma. It can be seen as small, shiny bumps or red patches. It is not fatal and rarely spreads. Without proper treatment, it can become disfiguring.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is highly treatable but can be fatal if left unattended. Some people notice scaly red patches while others will see growths with a hollow middle or open sores. Warts can also be squamous cell carcinoma.
- The rarest and deadliest skin cancer is melanoma. This type of cancer looks like a mole and can be black, brown, pink, skin-color, red, blue or white. It needs to be treated quickly to increase the chances of survival.
Excessive sun exposure can also lead to actinic keratosis (pre-cancerous lesions), which are common and can be treated with creams, liquid nitrogen or if needed, surgery.
Fact 3: Early detection is crucial
If you think you may have some type of skin cancer, do not wait to go to the doctor. While many try to self-diagnose by scanning photos on the internet and reading articles, this is not good practice and can be detrimental to your health. An assessment by a medical professional is the only way to accurately rule out skin cancer. Look for a dermatologist that does a comprehensive exam that takes a look at the whole body and inspects each suspicious mole and lesion.
Fact 4: Some sun is ok
Some sun is good for our health. The sun helps to promote the body’s production of Vitamin D. People with low Vitamin D experience fatigue and poor bone heath. Getting at least 15 minutes of direct sunshine daily helps to raise Vitamin D levels and also helps people who get the “winter blues.” The clinical name is seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, and can leave you feeling depressed and anxious. Getting outdoors in the sunlight lifts the mood and gets people involved in activities they enjoy. The key is moderation and a daily skin care regiment.
Fact 5: Skin cancer prevention
It is never too late to begin a skin care regiment that will both prevent further injury and repair and rejuvenate your skin. Let’s take a look at a few simple tips that can help to repair and guard your skin from the sun:
- Be diligent in protecting your skin from the damaging rays
- Wear sunscreen even when it is cloudy and reapply often
- Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day
- Wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your head, face and eyes
- Wear clothing with UV protection
We want you to know just how important skin care and early detection really is. If you notice a spot on your skin that you are just not sure about, get it checked out. Our medical dermatologist, Dr. Nahid Shahrooz, is board-certified and specializes in the early detection and treatment of skin cancer, along with other suspicious moles and skin growths. She provides extensive exams and her experience allows her to accurately diagnose a wide range of conditions. She offers detailed consultations at our Leawood office, where she will answer any questions or concerns you may have. Contact our office today and we will schedule you an appointment. Don’t wait!