Skin Cancer: Protect Yourself

The most common cause of skin cancer is long term exposure to the sun.

Intense exposure can cause severe sunburn and that can contribute to BCC (basal cell carcinoma).

Normally, most sun related skin cancer are the area’s most exposed to the sun, which would be the face, neck, scalp, ears, shoulders and back.  More recently, there is cause for concern for many people who drive a great deal and holding on to the steering wheel for hours at a time, are getting skin cancer on the back of their hands, wrists and forearms.

Basal cell cancer is usually very simple to remove with a regular visit to your dermatologist.  You should be vigilant about checking spots on your body that change color, shape, size, texture and look for moles.  You should also be checking for spots that have an unusual outline or itch, are crusty or bleed.   Some of these may be Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) and are a good reason to make an appointment with your dermatologist.  

Don’t panic if it is SSC, as that is still very manageable.  The most serious skin cancer is a Melanoma.

Although a melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, as long as it is recognized and treated early is almost always curable.  The majority of melanomas are black or brown; they can also be pink, red, purple, blue or white.  These are caused by intense UV sun exposure or even tanning beds!  Men are twice more likely to have a melanoma than women.

How do we protect ourselves?  The first step for anybody that works outside daily would be to use a sun block with an SPF of 30 to 50.  In addition to sun block, there are many choices for women and men’s ware retailers that offer UV protected clothing that make a big difference in blocking UV (ultra violet radiation from the sun) exposure to your arms, shoulders, front and back of your torso.

Finally, although we are all equal human beings, skin color does play a role in this area.  Many people think that because they have darker color pigmentation, they are immune to some of these various UV issues.   This is a big mistake in that not all skin cancer is directly related to the sun but there are other causes for skin conditions, such as open sores that resist healing, complications from burns, infections or even tattoos.

You should see a dermatologist at least once a year for a check-up and if you are prone to these symptoms, it is wise to see your doctor, twice a year!

To your health!


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