Summer is here. Pools are opening, the beaches are filling up, and the majority of people are outside taking advantage of the warm weather and long, sun-filled days. Often, many people forget about sunscreen, cute beach hats, or other sun protective accessories. Many times, it is even tempting to get a head start on summer tans by spending some time in the tanning bed.
However, the truth is, it is extremely important to guard your skin. With over 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, it is the most common cancer. The month of May has been named Skin Cancer Awareness Month to remind people to protect their skin in the upcoming summer months.
I personally never realized the importance of protecting my skin until last summer when I received a call from my dermatologist that I had a cancerous spot. Although the dermatologist had already removed the spot, he ordered that I went to the surgeon as soon as possible to remove more skin in case the cancer had spread. Although skin cancer is most times treatable, I still panicked. Thoughts of “what if I ignored this or didn’t catch it?” went through my mind. I went into the surgeon the next day, and with the removal of lots of skin and 50 stitches later, I was sent home. Thankfully the results came back that the cancer had not spread, however, I am reminded every day, by a large scar, to protect my skin.
Skin cancer affects people of every gender, ethnicity, and age. No one is immune to skin cancer. This means that is important for everyone to follow tips to protect your skin and regularly check your body for suspicious spots.
In order to protect your skin, make sure you follow these tips from the Skin Cancer Foundation
Use sunscreen SPF of 15 or higher and make sure it’s water-resistant
Do not burn – a person’s risk of melanoma doubles when he or she has had more than five sunburns.
Cover up when possible
Avoid all tanning beds – Those who use tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma. The more time spent tanning in a tanning bed, the higher the risk.
Examine your skin from head to toe at least once a month – Are there moles or sunspots that look strange or continue to grow? If so, seek medical attention. Do not put it off!
Visit a dermatologist every year for a checkup, or if you are concerned about a certain spot, visit immediately.
When checking your body, you can follow the ABCDE’s of melanoma provided by The American Academy of Dermatology:
(A) Asymmetry – One half of the spot does not look like the other.
(B) Border – This does not look like a normal circle. This spot is irregular and poorly defined.
(C) Color – Instead of one color, this spot may have varied shades and colors of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue.
(D) Diameter – Most times cancerous spots are greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser). However, this is not always the case. Smaller spots have been diagnosed cancerous.
(E) Evolving – A mole or sunspot looks different for the rest or is continuing to grow and change.
Ellison Barber, FOX News journalist tweeted a picture that said “Melanoma makes up less than 1% of skin cancer cases, but kills most people. The average age of people diagnosed with melanoma? 63. I turned 28 in October. In November, my doctor called to say they found melanoma on my back.”
Melanoma makes up less than 1% of skin cancer cases, but kills the most people.
The average age of people diagnosed with melanoma? 63.
I turned 28 in October.
In November, my doctor called to say they found melanoma on my back. pic.twitter.com/kU3SIkaHPI
— Ellison Barber (@ellisonbarber) December 16, 2017