Everyone looks forward to summer, especially in places where winters are harsh and seem to last forever. Of course, it’s also very tempting to stay outdoors and enjoy the summer warmth and bright sunshine. The flip side to this is overexposure to the sun, which increases skin damage, and in turn - an increased risk of skin cancer.
The good news is that most skin cancers are preventable. In order to understand and learn how to deal with it, let’s go back to the basics.
Skin cancer is caused by the irregular growth of cells in the outermost layer of the skin called the epidermis. Excessive exposure to the sun, including UV rays, leads to DNA damage in the skin cells. Thtriggers mutations, causing irregular and unusual types of cell growth. These mutations cause the skin cells to proliferate quickly and develop cancerous tumors.
A particular type of skin cancer is determined on the basis of where cancer originates. The different types of skin cancer are listed below:
Basal cells, which are skin cells that replace older ones in the lowest layer of the epidermis, are where basal cell carcinoma starts. This kind of skin cancer typically appears on the surface of the skin.
The middle and outer layers of the skin are made up of squamous cells, which are where squamous cell carcinoma of the skin usually originates.
Skin cancer that grows in the cells (melanocytes) that make melanin, the pigment responsible for the skin's color, is known as melanoma skin cancer.
It can take up to 20 years for skin cancer to manifest. You should be concerned about skin cancer even if your sunbathing days are in the past. Here are four ways in which skin cancer can be prevented:
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to always protect yourself against the sun’s rays and harmful UV radiation. Follow these steps when applying sunscreen:
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers UVA and UVB protection and has an SPF of at least 30. Check the label to be sure of the level of protection.
30 minutes before stepping outside, apply sunscreen to the entire body.
When outdoors, reapply sunscreen frequently, ideally every two hours, especially if you perspire or have been swimming. The best course of action is to select sunscreens that are water-resistant and more likely to stay on the skin.
Apply a lip balm that has an SPF of at least 15.
Apply sunscreen even if it’s cloudy! UV rays are powerful and still present, even on an overcast day.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, indoor tanning poses a 75% increased risk of developing melanoma skin cancer. There are more skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning than there are lung cancer cases due to smoking. No tan can be considered healthy or safe. Cells on the outermost layer of skin suffer genetic harm as a result of tanning beds. The skin tries to prevent further injury by producing melanin (the pigment that gives our skin its color) that results in darkening, which is what we call a tan. This darkening, or "tanning," is the outcome. This harm is cumulative, beginning with the initial tan.
Remember that the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can reach below the surface of the water and can reflect off surfaces, including water, sand, concrete, and snow. Even on cloudy days, some UV light can possibly cause damage because it can pass through fog and clouds. Therefore, it is important to practice sun protection. Take into account the following steps.
When the sun is at its strongest, which is often from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., avoid going out into direct sunlight as much as possible.
When outside in the sun, wear a hat and other sun-protective clothing. Darker colors and tightly woven fabrics usually offer additional protection as per the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
Wear UV-protective eyewear.
Ask your health professional if any current medications, such as antibiotics, could increase skin sensitivity
Skin cancer risk remains constant. The risk will increase as you spend more time in the sun. It's a good idea to check your skin from head to toe once a month. A professional skin exam at least once a year with a dermatologist is also recommended. Skin cancer is one of the most easily curable cancers if it is diagnosed early. Therefore, one should keep an eye for any abnormal changes visible on their skin, and seek medical attention in case anything abnormal is spotted.
As per the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. It is important to take necessary preventive steps in order to reduce your risk of having skin cancer. Most skin cancers are diagnosed late in life but begin to develop earlier as skin cancer develops over a period of time.
Bonus Tip: Taking these steps to prevent sun damage to the skin - can help delay the onset of wrinkles as well!
If you know someone who is dealing with skin cancer, consider ACTC. We have some of the best cancer specialists in Florida on our team. Our team provides personalized evidence-based cancer treatment with exceptional patient care. To schedule an appointment with our experts, call us at 352-345-4565.