Skin cancer is the most common cancer, but it’s also one of the easiest to prevent and detect. Dermatologists agree that the best prevention method is implementing sun-safe behaviors.
Vince Bertucci, M.D., FRCPC
President, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS)
ASDS is an international non-profit membership organization for over 6,300 board-certified dermatologic surgeons. A respected innovator, researcher, and educator, Dr. Vince Bertucci, M.D., FRCPC, practices at Bertucci MedSpa in the Toronto area where he serves as medical director.
Incorporating sun safety into your routine is important for preventing early signs of aging and skin cancer. Remember that skin cancer is color blind and no one is immune to it.
Being sun safe is a constant activity, no matter the season. These habits are essential for everyone of all ages, genders, and ethnicities for protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays:
- Minimize time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., by seeking shade whenever possible. Any change in your natural skin color is a sign of skin damage. The increase in skin pigment called melanin, which causes your skin to tan, is a sign of damage. Once the skin is exposed to UV radiation, it increases the production of melanin to protect the skin from further damage.
- Apply sunscreen every morning. Find a product that includes both UVA and UVB protection, often referred to as “broad spectrum.” Be sure to use enough product — a tablespoon-sized amount to your face and a shot glass-sized amount to the rest of your body. It’s important to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially after sweating, swimming, or showering. Sun exposure accumulates over your lifetime, leading to significant damage that shows through fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots, and possibly skin cancer.
- Wear sun-protective clothing, such as sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats. Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF)-rated clothing is increasing in popularity as it offers fashionable ways to block UV rays when sun exposure is unavoidable.
- Don’t let clouds or the temperature fool you. Damaging UV light penetrates through clouds and most windows, and its intensity has more to do with the angle of the rays than the temperature or the sun’s brightness.
- Perform monthly skin checks. If caught early, most skin cancers are treatable. Visit asds.net/Self-Exam to understand the warning signs to look for in new spots or changes to existing moles, such as increasing size or changing color.