02 Jun Why Skin Cancer Incidence is Skyrocketing
Skin cancer has always been a very common disease with the majority of adults who reach their golden years having some form of skin cancer. However, skin cancer is also completely preventable and it’s never too late to start better protecting your skin. Spectrum Dermatology encourages everyone, regardless of age, skin tone, or history of sunburns, to schedule an annual mole check in addition to performing self-checks of moles at home. An annual check with a dermatologist is the best way to catch skin cancer early. When skin cancer is diagnosed in the early stages, treatment is typically just an excision with no need for chemotherapy, radiation, or other aggressive treatments.
Sunscreen is the number-one way to keep from getting skin cancer in the first place. However, wearing sunscreen isn’t as simple as remembering to put it on from time to time. You need a broadband, medical-grade sunscreen that is properly applied. This means an application 30 minutes before your skin is exposed to the sun and a reapplication every 90 minutes. Being “in the sun” includes cloudy days or when you’re indoors sitting by a window. Wearing sunscreen correctly takes commitment and knowledge. Your dermatologist can help you determine other strategies to protect your skin or better apply sunscreen.
The COVID-19 Cancer Surge
Diagnoses of all cancers have increased in recent months, including all types of skin cancers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that more people are getting cancer, but rather it’s an unfortunate side effect of COVID-19. In the beginning of the pandemic, many people put off seeing their doctors—particularly for seemingly non-urgent matters like a mole check. It has only been in recent weeks as vaccinations became more available (and doctor offices opened their doors) that patients have started to get back into their self-care routine. Unfortunately, that year of avoiding the doctor can lead to a late diagnosis.
Having a mole check annually is a baseline. If you notice a mole that isn’t following the ABCDEs of skin cancer, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist right away. This means moles that are asymmetrical, that have irregular borders, multiple colors, a diameter larger than a pencil eraser, and evolve quickly over time should be inspected by a specialist. Many moles will change in size, often getting larger, over the years. However, if a mole is “evolving” at a fast pace, that is a possible sign of disease.
The Work from Home Issue
In the past year a lot of people adjusted to working from home and continue to do so. This can work well for many people, especially as you can completely control your work environment and even work on the porch or patio. However, working outdoors can make you vulnerable to UV rays, as can working by a window. If you counted on your previous office space to be a UV-free zone, that might not be the case when you work from home.
In the summer months a lot of people try to improve their sun protection routine and that’s a great idea. Make sure that getting your mole check is part of that regimen and that you’re using medical-grade sunscreen recommended by your dermatologist. It’s also a good idea to check any sunscreen you have to see if it’s expired. Even though you should use sunscreen year-round, a lot of people don’t get serious about this practice until the summer months. Using sunscreen from last summer means it’s probably expired and not as effective as it could be.
Taking Care of Your Skin
Skin cancer can be very serious if not caught early and if it’s allowed to progress. Sun protection and mole checks are your best tools to keep your skin healthy. If you haven’t had a mole check in the past year, schedule it today. If you’re concerned about a particular mole or lesion, seeing a dermatologist can either put your mind at rest or get you the quick treatment you need.
Contact Spectrum Dermatology today to schedule your mole check or get customized advice on sun protection. Call the office or book your appointment via the online form.