Skin cancer, also known as melanoma, is when you develop cancerous growths from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This happens as a result from spending time in the sun or in tanning beds. These growths must be removed through mole removal so that the cancer cells do not spread throughout the body. Here are some important tips to detect and prevent skin cancer.
Do regular monthly checks all over your body for unusual looking moles or spots. If you see something suspicious, be sure to make an appointment with your dermatologist, like those at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists, immediately. It is also a good idea to have a regular check up with a dermatologist every year. When caught and treated early, melanoma is almost always curable. Here are some tips for your monthly skin check:
- Check immediately after a shower.
- Be familiar with your birthmarks and any other blemishes on your body.
- If you find a suspicious mark, keep an eye on it for any change in shape or color.
- Perform your check in a room with good lighting so that you can adequately inspect each mark or mole. Use a full length mirror so that you can see your entire body, front and back. Use a hand-held mirror for places that may be harder to see.
- Get help from a friend or family member with the places that you can't see yourself, such as your scalp and your back.
Recognize Cancerous Moles
Here are some important characteristics of cancerous moles or melanomas that need to be inspected by your dermatologist for potential mole removal:
- The size of a melanoma will usually be larger than a pencil eraser.
- Melanomas can appear anywhere on the body, but they are most common on the head, face, neck, chest, arms and legs.
- The shape of a cancerous mole is usually irregular, as most other moles are circular or oval shaped.
- Most moles that are melanomas are pink, brown, tan or red.
- Cancerous moles will usually not be smooth, but instead will be rough, scaly or crusty.
- Moles that are cancerous usually change over time. If it gets larger or changes shape, it is most likely melanoma.
Preventing Skin Cancer
There are some simple things that you can incorporate into your normal routine that can help prevent skin cancer.
- ·Use sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply it at least 20-30 minutes before going into the sun. Be sure to apply it every 2 hours, especially if you are sweating or in the water. Products with both UVA and UVB protection are best.
- Avoid the sun between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. This is the time period that it is the most intense, and you can be easily sunburned.
- Stay out of the tanning booth. It is simply an intense form of the sun and is just as damaging.
- Try to wear clothing that will protect your skin from sun damage. Long sleeved shirts will protect your arms from the sun, while wide brimmed hats will protect your head and neck. Sunglasses help to protect you're the area around your eyes.
Skin cancer can be treated if caught early. Simply inspect your skin often and protect yourself from the damaging rays of the sun.