Are You Prone to Skin Cancer?
Many of us experienced skin cancer of one type or another over the years. I am one of the lucky ones, having never experienced skin cancer of any type. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most people I know. My husband, for example, had six areas needing treatment just this year. The type he had was basal cell carcinoma, which is generally slow-growing and not life-threatening but still needed attention. The dermatologist burned off three areas in his office, which was not a big deal. However, three Mohs surgeries were necessary, followed by plastic surgery to repair the wounds using skin from his neck and back. It was not fun. In addition, the procedures left him with scars in easily visible places. Fortunately, a friend recommended Moderna, Advanced Scar Gel. which did a beautiful job of minimizing the scars.
My husband had numerous other bouts of skin cancer in previous years, some requiring chemotherapy treatment. We know he is particularly at risk moving forward as he has light hair and eyes, skin that burns easily, and a history of excessive sun exposure from years spent at the beach and playing outdoor sports like golf and tennis. These earlier bouts with skin cancer also put him at higher risk in the future. Additional risk factors, which he does not have, include using tanning beds and a compromised immune system.
Have you thought about your own risk?
Types of Skin Cancer
There are several types of skin cancer, categorized based on the cells from which they originate. The three most common types are:
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): This is the most common type of skin cancer. It typically develops in the basal cells, which are found in the lower part of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). BCC often appears as a pearly or waxy bump, a flat, flesh-colored, or brown scar-like lesion, or a pink growth with an elevated border.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): SCC originates in the squamous cells, which are found in the upper layers of the epidermis. It is the second most common type of skin cancer. SCC usually appears as a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface. It can also be a sore that does not heal.
Melanoma: Although less common than basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It develops in the melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing pigment in the skin. Melanoma often presents as a new mole or an existing mole that changes in size, shape, or color. It may have irregular borders and may be asymmetrical.
Apart from these three main types, there are other rare types of skin cancer, including Merkel cell carcinoma, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, and several types of cutaneous lymphoma. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional if you notice any suspicious growths or changes on your skin. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the prognosis of skin cancer.
How to Prevent Skin Cancer?
Preventing skin cancer involves adopting protective measures and practicing sun safety. Here are some strategies you can follow to help protect yourself from skin cancer:
Wearing sunscreen is the most important recommendation! Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply it generously to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, ears, and hands. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming.
Limit your time in direct sunlight, especially during peak hours when the sun’s rays are strongest (typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Seek shade under umbrellas, trees, or other types of shade structures.
Wear protective clothing
Cover your skin with long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats that provide shade for your face, neck, and ears. Opt for lightweight and breathable fabrics that offer sun protection.
Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Look for sunglasses labeled with 100% UV protection.
Avoid tanning beds
Tanning beds emit harmful UV radiation that can increase your risk of skin cancer. It’s best to avoid them altogether.
Be aware of medications
Some medications can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. If you’re taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, consult your doctor or pharmacist to check if they can increase your sun sensitivity.
Regularly examine your skin for any changes or new moles. If you notice anything unusual, such as a mole that has changed in size, shape, or color, consult a healthcare professional.
Get regular check-ups
Schedule routine skin examinations with a dermatologist. They can help identify any potential signs of skin cancer and provide guidance on prevention.
Remember, these measures can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, but they don’t guarantee complete protection. It’s important to be vigilant and take appropriate precautions to safeguard your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation.
Signs and Symptoms That May Indicate Skin Cancer
Keep your eyes open for these signs and symptoms that can indicate skin cancer.
Changes in the appearance of moles or growths
Keep an eye on any moles, freckles, or growths on your skin. Look for changes in size, shape, color, or texture. New moles or growths that develop later in life should also be monitored.
Pay attention to moles or spots with uneven or irregular edges.
Look out for moles or spots with multiple colors or shades, such as different shades of brown, black, red, white, or blue.
Examine whether a mole or spot is asymmetrical, meaning one half doesn’t match the other half in terms of size, shape, or color.
Monitor any changes in a mole or spot over time, such as its size, shape, color, or elevation. Rapid growth or changes should be noted.
Itching, bleeding, or crusting
If a mole or spot becomes itchy, starts bleeding without injury, or develops a scaly or crusty surface, it could be a cause for concern.
Watch out for sores or ulcers on the skin that don’t heal within a few weeks.
While these signs don’t guarantee skin cancer, but they can indicate the need for further evaluation. If you notice any of these changes or have concerns about your skin, it’s recommended to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist or a healthcare professional experienced in skin cancer diagnosis. They can provide an accurate assessment and appropriate advice based on your individual situation.
Recommendations for Protective Clothing
There are lots of stylish and comfortable clothing options for both men and women that help protect your skin from skin cancer. Here are some great options to protect yourself from the sun:
Sun Protection Hoodie Shirt UPF 50+ Long Sleeve
Stay comfortable and dry in our silky and breathable fabric hoodie shirt with thumb holes, long sleeves, and neck gaiter! This shirt wicks moisture away from your skin, keeping you lightweight and quick-drying for all-day comfort while protecting you from the sun.
Coolibar UPF 50+ Women’s Catalina Beach Cover-Up Dress
With bamboo and cotton fabric that is super soft against the skin, this adorable hooded V-Neckline cover-up is lightweight, cool, and comfortable! It provides the highest quality zinc oxide protection and comes in a wide variety of colors. Perfect for everyday leisure or relaxing by the pool, lake or ocean!
Coolibar UPF 50+ Men’s Erodym Long Sleeve Golf Polo – Sun Protective
Active Athlon fabric is engineered for cutting-edge performance and comfort and features exclusive Cooltect technology that accelerates moisture-wicking for a cooler workout and helps keep the fabric fresh. This great-looking shirt is soft lightweight, breathable, and quick drying to keep you active all day long. An array of great colors are available for purchase!
BALEAF Women’s UPF 50+ Sun Protection Jacket Hooded Cooling Shirt with Pockets
We love the loose comfortable fit of this certified UPF 50+ lightweight jacket that protects your skin from harmful rays. This soft sun shirt is cool to the touch and provides a superior next-to-skin feel. A four-way stretch construction improves mobility for full-range motion. Check out the different colors available!
Callaway Golf 2021 Rutherford Flexfit Adjustable Hat 30+ UV Protection
As is typically the case with Callaway products, this great hat is high-quality and durable. The performance-wicking fabric, cooling sweatband, snapback closure and 30+ sun protection makes this attractive hat a wonderful purchase. Choose from a variety of colors.
Coolibar UPF 50+ Women’s Olivia Convertible Sun Visor
This great sun hat features sliding panels in the brim for adjustable sun coverage, a hidden zippered pocket on the left side for small essentials, and two hidden openings for high or medium ponytails! With an internal sweatband and elastic in the center back for a comfortable fit, wear this hat when you want to keep your cool while picking up the pace outdoors. Comes in gray, white and black colors.
Coolibar UPF 50+ Fore Golf Hat for Men and Women
This golf hat works well for both men and women! It features a lightweight foam brim (foldable for easy storage), an internal sweatband, laser-cut side panels for ventilation, and an elastic drawcord at the back of the crown for an adjustable fit. UPF 50+ blocks 98% of UVA/UVB rays! Comes in white, denim, blue and black.
FURTALK Womens Beach Sun Straw Hat UV UPF50 Travel Foldable Brim
Women love this fashionable and functional high-quality straw sun hat that offers high UV UPF sun protection! The wicking sweat band is cool and comfortable as it prevents sweat from dripping into your eyes. The chin strap keeps the hat on your head even on windy days. With a full brim, foldable for travel, this hat works equally well with a dress, swimsuit, or shorts.
Sunscreen is the Best Answer to “How to Prevent Skin Cancer?”
Doctors diagnose more than three million Americans each year. It is the most common type of cancer, but responsible for less than one percent of all deaths because, if found early, it can usually be treated successfully. Treatment for skin cancer detected early include topical medications, procedures done by a dermatologist in the office or with outpatient surgery. More advanced cases generally require more extensive treatment such as surgery and/or radiation therapy.
Fayne Frey, Board Certified Dermatologist and founder of FryFace.com says it is absolutely essential to wear sunscreen to help prevent skin cancer. All the time. My husband is diligent about applying and reapplying whenever outside these days. He wants to avoid more unpleasant procedures in the years to come. As per Dr. Frey:
“Wear high SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen. Remember, sunscreen is not negotiable. Apply it liberally. Reapply it often. But those efforts are still not enough. Protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays by wearing protective clothing such as hats and long sleeved shirts. Slip on some sunglasses. Most importantly, when possible, avoid midday sun. Choose to participate in outdoor activities in the morning and late afternoon. Try to avoid direct sun exposure between 10:00am – 3:00PM. Seek shade when possible. Be sun smart!”