Skin cancer awareness

May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

According to the World Health Organization, the incidence of skin cancers has been increasing over the past decades. Around the world, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur each year.

There are two major types of skin cancers: non-melanoma skin cancers and malignant melanoma. See here to find out more about these types.

How can we avoid skin cancer? Here are tips from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
Skin Cancer Foundation, skincancer.org

  1. Apply sunscreen every day even when it’s cloudy. Reapply approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen at the top of your feet, your neck, ears, and the top of your head. When choosing sunscreen, look for one that is broad-spectrum and water-resistant, it must offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays and that has an SPF of at least 30.

  2. Seek shade especially when the sun strongest - 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.

  3. Always protect your skin with clothing. When going outside, wear a long‐sleeved shirt, pants, a wide‐brimmed hat and sunglasses.

  4. Use extra caution near water, sand or snow because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.

  5. Get vitamin D safely from food that are naturally rich in it like salmon and mackerel. You can also ask your doctor or pharmacist for Vitamin D supplements. Do not seek the sun.

  6. If you want to get a tan, avoid tanning beds. Consider self-tanning products instead and continue to use sunscreen with it.

  7. Check your skin for signs of cancer. Check out AAD’s body mole map to document your self-examination. You can also see AAD’s Skin Cancer Infographic to know what to look for when checking your spots.

Skin cancer is highly preventable and highly treatable when caught early. Contact your doctor or dermatologist immediately when you see something unusual in your skin.

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