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Are You Doing Enough to Protect Yourself against Skin Cancer?

Posted on: May 1st, 2015 by California Skin Institute

California Skin Institute doctors have helped countless patients effectively treat skin cancer; from basal cell carcinoma, to aggressive forms of deadly melanoma.* However, though our doors are always open to patients dealing with skin cancer, we are also committed to providing cancer prevention education, to help you significantly reduce your chances of developing this problem in the future.* Why is prevention so important…? Because far too many families lose their loved ones to this disease…

Further, though your chances of developing skin cancer increase significantly with age, even teenagers are highly susceptible to this disease.* In fact, roughly 6 percent of all teenage cancer cases are attributable to melanoma! This is what makes skin cancer prevention education so vital – anyone can be affected, at any age.*

Steps to Reduce Skin Cancer Chances

Although you can never fully protect yourself and your loved ones against the odds of developing skin cancer, you can significantly lower your risk by following several steps:*

Sunscreen: You’ve probably heard this idea a million times already, right? But there’s a good reason for this tip; roughly 80%-90% of all skin cancer cases are attributable to UV radiation present in sunrays. Every time you’re hiking or going to the beach, your skin is bombarded with UV radiation, which has significant potential for damaging cellular DNA. And it doesn’t even take that much sun exposure to increase your chances of skin cancer…

For example, if you’ve had just 5 sunburns during your life, your risk of developing skin cancer nearly doubles! That is why it’s so important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, or to use moisturizers that have SPF protection in the formulation, because even an SPF 15 lotion can lower your chances of developing skin cancer.*

Avoid Tanning Beds: Although they’re often suggested to be a safe alternative to natural sunbathing, tanning beds actually pose a significant danger for developing skin cancer. For example, individuals who use tanning beds have a 69% higher chance of developing early-onset basal cell carcinoma. In fact, it is believed that up to 25% of all early-onset basal carcinoma cases could be avoided if individuals stopped using tanning beds!*

Further, the risk of skin cancer from tanning bed use is so significant, that the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies these devices as “Group 1” carcinogens; which is the same category as cigarettes and plutonium.

Some countries, like Australia and Brazil, have even completely banned these devices to protect the public. And in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration reclassified tanning beds in 2014 as a moderate-to-high risk device (tanning beds were considered low-to-moderate risk devices until then).

Get Regular Skin Exams: One part of skin cancer prevention is early detection.* For example, after melanoma begins to form, it will go through several stages, eventually reaching the lymph nodes, and metastasizing to other organs in the body.* With every stage, the chances of survival decrease significantly. Therefore, early detection is absolutely vital for preventing the cancer from spreading and increasing the effectiveness of treatment.*

When working with patients, California Skin Institute doctors suggest a skin cancer exam once a year, at the very least.* For those patients who are at greater risk of developing skin cancer (those with previous history of the disease, or a weakened immune system, for example) should have exams more frequently.*

Self Inspection: In addition to regular skin cancer exams with your dermatologist, it’s important you stay vigilant and conduct at-home inspections on yourself once a month.* Because skin cancer can form anywhere, ask a family member or a friend to inspect hard-to-see areas, like your scalp or your back.*

Gather Family Medical History: Lastly, it’s a great idea to speak to other family members about any possible history of skin cancer.* If someone in your family has dealt with skin cancer before, make sure to tell your doctor so that he/she can customize a more robust prevention plan for your situation.*

If you have concerns, or have found worrisome moles or skin discolorations, it’s imperative that you speak to a doctor right away.* If you have an HMO, make an appointment with your primary care provider as soon as possible, as referrals to specialists (like dermatologists) can take several weeks – so you want to start the process right away.*

On the other hand, if you have the ability to go directly to a dermatologist, make an appointment as soon as possible.* Remember, skin cancer survival rates increase significantly with early detection.*

At California Skin Institute we have extensive expertise diagnosing and treating all types of skin cancer. If you’d like to be seen by one of our Board Certified Dermatologists, please call a California Skin Institute practice near you, or click the link below to set up an appointment!

*Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.