29 Dec Sun Exposure And Skin Cancer Go Hand In Hand
Simply said, if you live your life without sun protection, your chances of needing skin cancer treatment at some point, exponentially goes up.
Yes, we all love the sun, it feels good on our skin, it has the vitamin D that we need and that we couldn’t live without. But, with all the good that comes from the sun, the fact is that too much of this “good thing” causes most of the skin changes that we think are normal signs of aging. Over time, the sun’s UV rays damage the elastin in the skin and the skin begins to sag and lose its ability to go back into place. Additionally, the skin tears and bruises much more easily and takes longer to heal. When you are young these changes seem eons away, but suddenly, there they are.
What Does Sun Exposure Cause?
- Precancerous and cancerous skin lesions, due to a decrease in the skin’s immune function
- Benign tumors
- Mottled pigmentation
- Telangiectasias, which is the dilation of blood vessels under the skin
- Fine and coarse wrinkles
- Elastosis, which is the destruction of elastin and collagen
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Of all cancers, skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the U.S. and the numbers continue to rise. Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. This rapid growth results in the formation of tumors, which are either benign or malignant.
What Are The Various Types Of Skin Cancer?
The three main types of skin cancer include: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma. Basal and Squamous are less serious forms of cancer and they make up about 95% of all skin cancers. They are highly curable when treated early. Melanoma, on the other hand, is the most serious form of skin cancer. 75% of cancer deaths involve Melanoma. Left untreated or found late, it can spread to other organs and become very difficult to control.
Cumulative sun exposure causes mainly Basal cell and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Severe sunburn before age 18 can raise the risk of melanoma. Less common causes are repeated X-ray exposure and exposure to certain chemicals.
Am I At Risk To Develop Skin Cancer?
Of course, anyone has the possibility of developing skin cancer. If you have skin, you can get skin cancer. The greatest risk involves those people with fair or freckled skin, skin that burns quite easily, people with light eyes and blonde or red hair. Darker skinned people are also susceptible to skin cancer, however the risk factors are lower for them.
Family history or personal history of skin cancer, if you have a job that is outside are also factors in considering your risk for skin cancer. Lastly, a history of severe sunburns and an abundance of large and irregularly – shaped moles are unique to melanoma.
Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer
Most commonly a sign of skin cancer comes as a change on the skin. This could be a new mole or lesion or a change in an existing mole.
Basal Cell appears as a small, smooth waxy or pearlized bump on the ears, face or neck, or sometimes as a flat pink, red or brown lesion on the trunk, arms or legs.
Squamous Cell can appear as a red, firm nodule or sometimes as a rough, scaly flat lesion. They both appear on areas that are frequently exposed to the sun.
Melanoma appears as a pigmented patch or bump, but also may be red or white. It can resemble a normal mole, but more times than not, has an irregular shape.
How Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented?
Although the skin does have the ability, to repair itself, nothing can undo sun damage. But, the good news is, it’s never too late to begin protecting yourself from the damage of the sun. Everyone’s skin changes as they age, but the changes can be delayed with proper sun protection.
Tips For Skin Cancer Prevention
- These tips can help in the prevention of skin cancer:
- APPLY SUNSCREEN. Use an SPF of greater than 30 for UVB protection and zinc oxide for UVA protection 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and every 20 minutes thereafter. Add more often if you are swimming or sweating.
- Select items with UV protection, such as clothing, sunglasses and cosmetics
- Wear wide-brimmed hats
- Avoid sun exposure at peak sun hours, between 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.
- Do skin self-exams monthly to become familiar with moles that exist and to notice changes or new ones.
- Be a good role model for your children. Most lifetime sun exposure happens before the age of 18.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
It is prudent to have a licensed, board certified Dermatologist do a full body check at least once a year. Skin cancer is nothing to fool with. Start today to protect yourself with all that is available. Contact the team at Spectrum Dermatology if you’re concerned about spots or changes in your skin. We can perform a skin cancer screening and together develop a treatment plan if you’ve been diagnosed with Skin Cancer. Contact our office at (480) 948-8400 and we can schedule your appointment. Make a private consultation today for your full body check and come away with peace of mind.