Many people neglect to pay sufficient attention to their skin. This is reflected with more skin cancer diagnoses each year in the United States than all other cancers combined.
By the numbers
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. An equal opportunity cancer, it can affect people of any race, gender or age. The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) Survey on Dermatologic Procedures revealed that its physician members performed over 3.5 million skin cancer treatments in 2017. The rate of melanoma – the deadliest form – has increased 30 percent in the last six years. In fact, one person dies of melanoma every hour.
The good news is that when detected early, skin cancer has an almost 100 percent survival rate. Research shows that most skin cancers are found by the affected individual. When people regularly check their skin for suspicious moles or lesions, they can literally save their own lives.
Overexposure to the sun’s rays damages skin cells. Limit exposure and avoid getting sunburns, as one blistering burn can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Ultraviolet (UV) exposure doesn’t just happen on a day at the beach. Daily activities, like walking the dog and driving to work, all increase UV exposure.
There are several, easy things one can do to limit their exposure to harmful rays.
Minimize time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Wear sun-protective clothing like sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves. Wear sunscreen daily, even if it’s cloudy. Avoid tanning beds. Perform monthly self-exams and have any changing skin lesions examined by a board-certified dermatologist. Schedule an annual dermatologist appointment. Educate children on the importance of proper sun protection by supporting SUNucate legislation allowing the use of sunscreen at schools and camps.
There are multiple ways to treat various types of skin cancer including freezing, scraping and burning, laser treatment and surgical removal. Mohs surgery involves surgically removing skin cancer layer by layer, carefully examining the tissue under a microscope until all cancerous tissue is removed. All of these methods require surgical expertise.
Choose skin health
Skin cancer is a serious diagnosis and can be deadly. However, choosing skin health with sun-safe behaviors and early treatment can lead to successful outcomes.
Lisa M. Donofrio, M.D., ASDS President, [email protected]