May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Skin Cancer is an Equal Opportunity Disease
Protecting yourself from exposure to sunlight is the best way of preventing skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). However, the results of an AAD survey show that 76% of Americans know the importance of sun protection, but only 41% regularly protect themselves outdoors.
Nearly 1.5 million people in the United States are diagnosed each year with skin cancer. More than 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. This most common form of cancer also causes more than 12,0000 deaths annually with nearly 20 American dying every day from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Your risk for skin cancer rises if your parent, child, or sibling has experienced any type of the disease. Excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays – the leading cause of skin cancer – can harm you even when you are in the shade, so always wear sunscreen (and a hat and sunglasses)!
The AAD recommends that everyone:
• Seek shade when the sun’s rays are the strongest, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• Wear sun-protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
• Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher on all skin not covered by clothing.
Early detection is critical. It is vital to know the early warning sings. The front line against skin cancer starts with your own monthly skin self-exam. Standing in front of a mirror to examine your skin takes just a few minutes. A hand mirror or loved one can help you get a look at hard-to-see spots.
Be sure to check everywhere looking out for the ABCDEs — the warning signs of melanoma:
• A — Asymmetry: half the spot is not like the other.
• B — Border: irregular, scalloped or poorly defined borders.
• C — Color: varying colors from one area to the next.
• D — Diameter: melanomas are usually larger than 6 millimeters when diagnosed — about the size of a pencil eraser — but they can be smaller.
• E — Evolving: looks different or changes in size, shape, or color.
20% of Americans will develop some type of skin cancer during their lifetimes. So any suspicious new growths or changes should be examined by a dermatologist as soon as possible. Most skin cancer is very curable if treated early enough. Regardless, it is a smart idea to make an annual skin screening appointment with a board-certified dermatologist. We are hoping to be back to regular patient visits by June 1, so schedule your full body examination now by calling 215.361.3376. We look forward to seeing you!
The ABCDE guideline is one of two commonly used strategies for early detection of melanoma.