3 ways to decrease risk of skin cancer:
1. Sun protection:
Sun protection is most important to prevent and decrease the risk of skin cancer. This is accomplished in several ways. Sun avoidance, such as walking on the shaded side of the street, avoiding mid-day sun, and using an umbrella at the beach are important. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and other sun protective clothing is important. Special clothes are available for outdoor activities, such as golf or tennis, running, going to the beach and etc. These clothes have “UPF” – the fabric is woven tightly to prevent sun’s harmful rays from penetrating the article of clothes. Some new options include fabrics to keep one cool and absorb sweat. Using sunscreen is one of the cornerstones of sun protection. Look for a trusted brand sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, SPF 30 and above, and water resistance. Spray sunscreen have been recently criticized for not working as well if not rubbed in. The amount of sunscreen used is important – apply about a shot-glass amount each time. It’s also important to reapply regularly, about every 3 hours or so, especially after being in water or participating in a physical activity.
2. Yearly skin check:
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a yearly full skin check with a Board Certified Dermatologist for those 18 years old or over. During this exam a dermatologist will check your skin from head to toe. Although skin cancer is most common on sun-exposed skin, it’s also important to check areas where “the sun don’t shine,” since some patients may develop skin cancer in those locations. This is especially true for those who’ve used tanning beds in the past. The goal of this exam is to find abnormal lesions early, either to prevent development of skin cancer or to find skin cancer when it’s least invasive. If an abnormal lesion is found, a biopsy may be performed. Depending on the results, your dermatologist may perform an additional treatment of skin cancer and ask you to follow up more often than annually.
3. Perform a monthly self skin exam:
A monthly self skin exam may help you find an abnormal mole or even skin cancer. Look for lesions that are new, changing in size, color or texture, or are painful, itchy or sore. While benign lesions may sometimes produce all of these changes, make sure to see your dermatologist to have the lesion checked.
See Dr. Goldenberg for your skin cancer screening yearly or more often if needed.