Published monthly in The Marysville Advocate, "To Your Health" articles provide information about health and wellness topics.
PREVENT AND DETECT SKIN CANCERS THIS SUMMER
Remember your skin - your body's largest organ - this summer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States (American Academy of Dermatology). Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. In 2018, it is estimated that 9,320 deaths will be attributed to melanoma - 5,990 men and 3,330 women. Skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly treatable when detected early.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Risk factors for all types of skin cancer include skin that burns easily; blond or red hair; a history of excessive sun exposure, including sunburns; tanning bed use; immune system-suppressing diseases or treatments; and a history of skin cancer. Additionally, people with more than 50 moles, atypical moles, or large moles are also at an increased risk of developing melanoma. Caucasians and men older than 50 have a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population. Those who work outside, including farmers, receive more ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure than the general public.
While people with skin of color have a lower risk of developing melanoma, the disease is often diagnosed at later stages in skin of color, when melanoma is more advanced and more difficult to treat.
How can I prevent skin cancer? The American Academy of Dermatology encourages you to have fun outdoors and follow these quick tips to decrease your risk of skin cancer:
• Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow appears shorter than you, seek shade. • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible. • Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to all exposed skin. Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days and after swimming or sweating. • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn. • Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
Checking your skin means taking note of all the spots on your body, from moles to freckles to age spots. Ask someone for help when checking your skin, especially in hard to see places.
• Examine body (front and back in mirror), then right and left sides, arms. • Examine back of neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look at your scalp. • Bend elbows, look carefully at forearms, back of upper arms, and palms. • Check back and buttocks with a hand mirror.
• Finally, look at backs of legs and feet, spaces between toes, and soles.
If you have any questions about the appearance of one of your spots, make an appointment with your primary care physician by calling 785-562-2311. Skin cancers are highly treatable when detected early, but the best form of treatment is prevention.
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708 North 18th Marysville, KS 66508 (785) 562-2311