Megan Steljes, FNP-C discusses skin cancer prevention
Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States and they are increasing every year. The major risk factor for the development of skin cancers is ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. Preventive measures that decrease exposure to UV radiation and early detection of skin cancers are vital in decreasing mortality and morbidity associated with skin cancers.
There are many ways we can protect our skin from harmful UV exposure.
- Cover up with protective clothes: UV-blocking clothing, long sleeves, broad-brimmed hats, long pants, and UV-blocking sunglasses are essentials.
- Utilize sunscreen for outside activity: Use a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB protective) sunscreen that is SPF of 30 or higher. When applying sunscreen, always read the label and follow the instructions. You should apply about 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or after swimming or excessive sweating. Remember to apply sunscreen to your entire body including easily forgotten areas like your head, neck, feet, and ears. Ensure your sunscreen is not expired. Also, leaving sunscreen in the heat may make it less effective.
- Avoid sunburn even on cloudy days. Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as UV radiation is reflective on those surfaces and intensifies your exposure.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds/lamps.
- Seek a shady environment when at all possible; UV radiation exposure is highest between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.
- Add window film to your vehicles that screens out UVA and UVB radiation for additional protection.
Along with prevention, early detection of skin cancer is vital in helping improve outcomes. It is recommended that everyone examines their skin, head-to-toe, at least once a month and also be examined by a board-certified dermatologist annually. If you noticed any new, suspicious, or changing spots on your skin while doing the self-examinations, these should be brought to the attention of your dermatologist. The Skin Cancer Foundation provides a great step-by-step video explaining how to perform a proper self-skin examination.
- Examine your face, especially your nose, lips, mouth, and ears — front and back. Use one or both mirrors to get a clear view.
- Thoroughly inspect your scalp, using a blow-dryer and mirror to expose each section to view.
Prevention Guidelines. Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen.
Follow these tips to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays and reduce your risk of skin cancer: Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade. Wear protective clothing …
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. In fact, more skin cancers are diagnosed in the US each year than all other cancers combined. The number of skin cancer cases has been going up over the past few decades.