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Limiting exposure to sun can prevent skin cancer

By Cierra Richardson | Online Editor
On April 17, 2019

Skin cancer includes basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. New cases of Melanoma cancers are expected to increase in 2019.
Photo Courtesy of Spectrumhealth.org 

Hot temperatures are on the way and it’s time for precautionary treatments involving skin and sun-care.

Sunlight exposure can be quite common for people visiting the beach hoping for a tan. However, too much exposure to the sun could lead to a risk of developing skin cancer.

One particular type of skin cancer, melanoma, is the most dangerous and can quickly spread to other parts of the body if not identified early.

Melanoma occurs when skin cells began to form tumors on the basal layer of the skin. The ultimate cause of melanoma cancer is a direct effect of ultraviolet rays. The main source of ultraviolet radiation is in sunlight and with too much exposure it can damage the DNA of skin cells. When UV rays damage the DNA of genes that control skin cell growth, skin cancer begins to form.

Although melanoma is not the most common form of skin cancer in relation to basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer, it does cause the most deaths.

New cases and more deaths are being reported and are even expected to increase.

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2018 there were more than 91,000 new diagnoses of melanoma cancer. In a recent annual statistics report, it showed that in 2019 it is projected to see an estimate of 96,000 cases of melanoma cancer.

An increase in new diagnoses has an even greater impact for the Sunshine State, with an estimate of more than 131,000 new cases and 45,000 deaths.

Through each report, doctors are hoping to educate the public on the importance of being aware of skin cancer and its impact on the body.

In order to spread more knowledge, Dr. Ricardo Mejia at Jupiter Dermatology discusses the beneficial impact skin cancer has as opposed to other types of cancer.

“The best thing about skin cancer is that it can be easily identified by any person with proper education and tools to recognize it because it's on your skin. You can't see prostate cancer and you can't see breast cancer,” said Mejia.

Mejia believes monitoring warning signs and visiting the doctor are essential to early detection.

“Education is very important because the skin is an external organ. You can easily visualize whereas with many other cancers you cannot,” he added.

Dr. Amit Om, a dermatology resident at Florida State University, believes that one of the major risk factors when it comes to melanoma is tanning.

“One thing I would tell everyone is to avoid tanning bed. I think that's probably the worst thing you can do. If you want to avoid skin cancer wear sunscreen and it needs to be applied every single day,” said Om.

Another method that is more effective than tanning beds includes tanning lotion or topical bronzers. For sunscreen, it should include SPF of at least 30 and should be reapplied every two hours.

Other prevention methods include wearing sunglasses to protect the skin around the eyes and even wearing a hat to protect the face.

Protecting the skin can lower the risk of becoming diagnosed with melanoma cancer.

Melanoma can impact anyone but by knowing the signs as early as possible is most important.

According to Data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health index, it shows that the diagnosis of melanoma is more common in women impacting 4.6 percent of women compared to affecting 3.5 percent of men in the U.S.

Being able to be proactive and protecting the skin from sun damage is essential. Also, visiting the doctor for skin exams and being familiar with normal patterns of the skin including moles, freckles, and blemishes is also important.

Various methods can help educate people on the early detection of skin cancer and help them become more familiar about their skin.

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