Skin cancer is the most widespread cancer among us. In fact, more skin cancers are diagnosed and treated in the U.S. each year than all other forms of cancer combined. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
Fortunately, skin cancer is also the most preventable form, and early detection is the key to successful treatment. One form of skin cancer, melanoma, is particularly deadly, and it doesn’t respond well to treatment. Again, early detection is the key.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Skin Cancer?
The reason skin cancer can be at the same time the most commonly occurring form of cancer and the most preventable is because of our human behavior. It is what we do – and what we do not do – that makes the most difference. As a result, let’s focus here on what we can do, rather than on heredity, environment, nutrition, pharmacology, or any of the other variables that increase or decrease our chances of survival.
Yes, we can cite a hundred sources for the visual and tactile characteristics of a skin cancer lesion, and too often that is the set of answers you find when you look for warning signs. The two problems with this focus are 1) by the time you can see or feel anything, you already have skin cancer, and 2) the non-professional eye is far from perfect at knowing what you are seeing. Certain types of insect bites can heal in a way that looks very much like the beginning of a lesion, for example. Some of the most likely spots where skin cancer can develop are out of sight anyway.
You Bet Your Life
And, as we so often say, why would you bet your life on your own ability to tell the difference between a mole, a zit, a cyst, and the start of a melanoma? Having a regular, professional examination, a skin scan, is a key ingredient in early detection and, therefore, the greatest indicator for survival.
For all these reasons, the five ways to prevent skin cancer we would like to concentrate on here are these:
- Use sunscreen daily.
- Don’t exercise or relax outdoors between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Wear a hat when outside.
- Don’t go sleeveless during the summer.
- Take time for a professional exam.
How to Improve Your Chances
Taking charge of your own skin cancer prevention involves incorporating these five prevention strategies into your daily routine. Make 30 or 50 SPF sunscreen a family ritual before work and before school. Use your own shadow as a sundial for the safer times of day to be outdoors – the longer your shadow, the less UV radiation your skin is absorbing. Make hats a part of your signature style when you go outdoors. Discover the wonder fabrics – old and new – that make long sleeves and trousers work even in the summer heat.
And let’s conclude with an invitation: Make an appointment now to get a professional skin scan and take your professional’s advice on how often you should come back for an update. We would be honored to become your resource for this key ingredient in keeping skin cancer from making you one of its victims.
The stakes are that urgent, and the solutions are that simple. We hope this makes surviving the most common form of cancer an easy choice for you.