Summer is fast approaching, which means longer days, warmer weather, sunshine and cookouts. Summer brings people out of their hibernation for fun outdoor activities. However, with this brings overexposure to the sun and damaging ultraviolet rays. It’s important to know how to protect yourself from sun damage so the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has dedicated May 28th (the Friday before Memorial Day) “Don’t Fry Day”. It is encouraged that you practice sun safe methods on this day and the days to follow and increase your awareness of skin cancer. There is no one method that can completely protect you from UV radiation so it is encouraged that you use a few of the following actions:
* Avoid sun burning, intentional tanning, and using tanning beds.
* Apply sunscreen generously (SPF 15 or higher).
* Wear sun-protective clothing, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
* Seek shade.
* Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand.
* Get vitamin D through diet and vitamin D supplements.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with an estimated 62,480 cases of malignant melanoma being diagnosed and over one million cases of basal cell or squamous cell cancers being diagnosed this year in the U.S.(The American Cancer Society) However, skin cancer can be the most curable form of cancer if detected early. It is highly recommended that you do self screenings and is as easy as remembering A,B,C,D. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and generally forms in and around moles. So to do a self body scan of your moles follow these rules:
A = Asymmetry, if one side of your mole appears different from the other then you might be at risk
B = Border, moles are generally round and uniform in shape so if you have a mole that has a jagged or notched border then you might be at risk
C = Color, if your mole is comprised of different colors or if it changes colors over time then you might be at risk
D = Diameter, if a mole is larger than 6mm, you may be at risk
The important thing to note is that not all moles fit into a specific category, but these are guidelines to follow when do your self screenings. Bottom line, if you have a mole or patch of skin that looks suspicious then it’s better to get it checked out by your doctor. Early detection is key with any cancer. So this year pledge to be safe while enjoying the sun!