Posts for tag: Skin Cancer
What should I expect from a skin cancer screening?
There is nothing uncomfortable, painful, or invasive about a skin cancer screening. This can be a relief to know and may even make someone more likely to come in for the screening they need. A skin cancer screening involves a simple, non-invasive visual examination that is performed by a qualified dermatologist. Your skin doctor will examine all growths, moles, and birthmarks to check for any changes in shape, color, size, or texture that could be warning signs of cancer.
Just as with any health screening, a skin cancer screening can help your dermatologist detect skin cancer during the very early stages when it’s highly treatable. If your dermatologist does detect a suspicious growth, they may recommend a biopsy. A biopsy simply means that your dermatologist will remove a small amount of tissue from the area to test for cancer cells.
Who should get a skin cancer screening?
Everyone can benefit from a skin cancer screening; however, certain risk factors can increase your odds of developing skin cancer over your lifetime. It’s important to know your risk level so you can talk with your dermatologist about how often you should come in for screenings. Those at increased risk may need to come in more than once a year. These risk factors include,
- Being fair-skinned
- Having blonde or red hair
- Light eyes
- Skin that burns or freckles easily
- A history of sunburns
- Family history of skin cancer
- Extensive sun exposure (e.g. working outdoors)
During the much longed-for summer months, people work on their tans. While enjoying a richer skin tone now, tanners take huge risks for premature aging and skin cancer.
Sun and artificial tanning
It's what we use to get those tans. But, did you know that when you tan, you actually burn the top layer (epidermis) of your skin and damage your DNA, too?
According to Live Science, DNA damage mutates normal skin cells into cancer cells. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common kinds of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer as it easily metastasizes to major body organs. About one-third of melanoma cases in the US kill their sufferers annually, says The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Unfortunately, artificial tanning is just as dangerous as sitting in the sun. Intermittent sun exposure or occasional tanning in the sun or tanning beds are harmful, too. Damage to the skin is cumulative, and both kinds of ultraviolet radiation (there are UV-A and UV-B rays) breakdown your skin's DNA over time. Further, UV-B harms your skin's natural elasticity normally provided by a protein called collagen.
Don't tan: protect
To protect your skin, avoid sunburns, intentional tanning and excessive day to day sun exposure with these strategies from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD):
- Cover up any exposed skin (face, arms, legs, ears) with a broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeves and other sun-protective clothing.
- Use sunscreen lotion--SPF 30 or higher--on all exposed skin, and re-apply every two hours or whenever you sweat it off or swim.
- Stay indoors or in the shade from 10 am to 2 pm.
Also, all adults, particularly those 40 or older, should see a dermatologist for an annual skin exam. Do a careful self-exam once a month at home, looking for changes in the color, size, and shape of existing spots or moles. Report changes to your skin doctor as well as any sore which does not heal in a week or so.
It's your skin
Don't sacrifice its health for a little fashionable color. Tanning really is bad for you. Find healthy ways to enjoy the summer months and that wonderful sun. Your skin and your overall health will be better for your efforts.
With the warmer months just around the corner you may be getting ready to plan some fun in the sun. The summertime always finds children spending hours outside playing, as well as beach-filled family vacations, backyard barbeques, and more days just spent soaking up some much-needed vitamin D.
While it can certainly be great for our emotional and mental well-being to go outside, it’s also important that we are protecting our skin against the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. These are some habits to follow all year long to protect against skin cancer,
Wear Sunscreen Daily
Just because the sun isn’t shining doesn’t mean that your skin isn’t being exposed to the harmful UVA and UVB rays. The sun’s rays have the ability to penetrate through clouds. So it’s important that you generously apply sunscreen to the body and face about 30 minutes before going outside.
Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Everyone should use sunscreen, even infants. Just one sunburn during your lifetime can greatly increase your risk for developing skin cancer, so always remember to lather up!
Reapply Sunscreen Often
If you are planning to be outdoors for a few hours you’ll want to bring your sunscreen with you. After all, one application won’t be enough to protect you all day long. A good rule of the thumb to follow is, reapply sunscreen every two hours. Of course, you’ll also want to apply sunscreen even sooner if you’ve just spent time swimming or if you’ve been sweating a lot (e.g. running a race or playing outdoor sports).
Seek Shade During the Day
While feeling the warm rays of the sun on your shoulders can certainly feel nice, the sun’s rays are at their most powerful and most dangerous during the hours of 10am-4pm. If you plan to be outdoors during these times it’s best to seek shady spots. This means enjoying lunch outside while under a wide awning or sitting on the beach under an umbrella. Even these simple measures can reduce your risk for skin cancer.
See a Dermatologist
Regardless of whether you are fair skinned, have a family history of skin cancer or you don’t have any risk factors, it’s important that everyone visit their dermatologist at least once a year for a comprehensive skin cancer screening. This physical examination will allow our skin doctor to be able to examine every growth and mole from head to toe to look for any early signs of cancer. These screenings can help us catch skin cancer early on when it’s treatable.
Noticing changes in one of your moles? Need to schedule your next annual skin cancer screening? If so, a dermatologist will be able to provide you with the proper care you need to prevent, diagnose and treat both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Too much exposure to sunlight can be harmful to your skin. Dangerous ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays damage skin, which leads to premature wrinkles, skin cancer and other skin problems. People with excessive exposure to UV radiation are at greater risk for skin cancer than those who take careful precautions to protect their skin from the sun.
Sun Exposure Linked to Cancer
Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma. To limit your exposure to UV rays, follow these easy steps.
- Avoid the mid-day sun, as the sun's rays are most intense during 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remember that clouds do not block UV rays.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand.
- Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps which emit UVA and UVB rays.
- Wear hats and protective clothing when possible to minimize your body's exposure to the sun.
- Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 to your exposed skin. Re-apply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and area around your eyes.
Everyone's skin can be affected by UV rays. People with fair skin run a higher risk of sunburns. Aside from skin tone, factors that may increase your risk for sun damage and skin cancer include:
- Previously treated for cancer
- Family history of skin cancer
- Several moles
- Typically burn before tanning
- Blond, red or light brown hair
If you detect unusual moles, spots or changes in your skin, or if your skin easily bleeds, make an appointment with our practice. Changes in your skin may be a sign of skin cancer. With early detection from your dermatologist, skin cancers have a high cure rate and response to treatment. Additionally, if you want to reduce signs of aged skin, seek the advice of your dermatologist for a variety of skin-rejuvenating treatment options.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. More that two million people in the U.S. are afflicted by skin cancer each year, and that number is only rising. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
Skin cancer can be deadly, but it is also very curable when detected early. Along with proper prevention and sun protection, you should examine your body regularly to check for any suspicious spots or changes as they develop.
When You Spot It You Can Stop It
Early detection of skin cancer can save your life. Self-examine your skin regularly, at least once a month, to look for unusual skin changes. Visiting your dermatologist routinely is also helpful, as they can do a full-body exam to make sure existing spots are normal. Regular self-exams should become a habit. It only takes a few minutes, and this small investment could save your life.
Warning Signs: What to Look For
By regularly examining your body, you can detect skin cancer in its earliest stages. Notify your dermatologist immediately if you identify any of the following symptoms:
- A skin growth that appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored
- A mole, birthmark or any spot that: changes color, increases in size or thickness, changes in texture or is irregular in outline
- A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed
- An open sore that does not heal within a few weeks
- A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness or pain
A suspicious spot may be nothing, but its better to be safe than sorry. Always consult your dermatologist or physician if you notice any changes in your skin that seem abnormal.
ABCD’s of Skin Cancer Detection
As a good reminder, follow the ABCD rule as a guide for detecting skin cancer. Any of the below symptoms warrant a call to your dermatologist.
- Asymmetry: One half of a mole or spot doesn’t match the other half.
- Border: The edges of a mole are irregular or blurred.
- Color: The mole’s color or pigmentation is not uniform and/or has shades of brown, black, white, red or blue.
- Diameter: The spot or mole is larger than ¼ inch or 6 mm, approximately the size of a pencil eraser.
Skin cancer can be life-threatening, but it is also very preventable and treatable. Start taking care of your skin now by recognizing the early signs of skin cancer and protecting your skin from the sun.