Skin cancer is rampant in the United States making it the most common type of cancer affecting over 5 million people. Being that May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it is important to raise awareness on how you can implement preventative strategies to intercept skin cancer before it develops. Many people aren’t aware of how dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun can truly be. Therefore, it is crucial that people understand its potential harm and how they could engage in habits that protect them from the sun’s powerful rays.
As serious as skin cancer can be, when detected and treated early, it can almost always be cured. Skin cancer can affect people of all ages, race, and gender therefore everyone at all times should ensure they are protected. This includes applying sunscreen throughout the day, especially on days when you know you’re going to spend most of your time outside. With this said, there are certain skin types that are more prone to skin cancer such as those individuals of fair complexion.
Encouraging your family as well as yourself to implement SPF of 20+ or more into your everyday routine can significantly reduce the chances of getting skin cancer. Keep in mind that even if a sunscreen reads “water resistant” on the label, it is very likely that you need to reapply to get full protective coverage. Many people also forget to check the expiration date of their sunscreen; typically they can last up to 2-3 years. However, if you see that your sunscreen is expired, you will not be protected by the sun if you apply it. You can also limit your sun exposure by wearing protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and seeking shade when the sun is at its strongest, which is usually around 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Applying sunscreen to all exposed parts of the body is important. People tend to apply sunscreen mostly on their face and they neglect other parts of their body such as their ears, neck, and arms. In addition to making a conscious effort to applying sunscreen regularly, this month everyone is strongly encouraged to visit their health care provider for a checkup. If skin cancer is detected, it can immediately be treated and cured, potentially saving your life or that of a loved one. Some indicators of skin cancer may include a mole that isn’t perfectly round, a mole with multiple colors, a mole larger than 6 millimeters, or a mole that continuously changes in color or size. However, there is no exact way to determine if you have skin cancer yourself, which is why it is best to see your doctor as soon as possible.