May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, an important reminder to love and take care of the skin you’re in!
As summer kicks off and we start spending more of our time outside, it’s necessary to point out the serious risks, causes, and dangers of skin cancer. This month, Tucson ER & Hospital is reviewing how to have fun in the sun responsibly, while preventing melanoma.
Skin Cancer 101
Skin cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the outer layer of skin grow at an alarming rate. These cells experience out-of-control growth due to unrepaired damage to the DNA. There are four main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), Merkle cell carcinoma (MCC), and melanoma.
The good news about skin cancer is that there is a 99% chance of survival when detected early. Like many cancers, early detection is possible with the help of a doctor. Getting your moles checked annually and regularly self-examining your skin are diligent ways to catch skin cancer in its earliest form.
You should consider reaching out to your doctor if you have:
- People in your family who have or had melanoma
- Unusual moles in the past, or any that currently look irregular
- More than 50 moles on your body
- Used tanning beds
- Had an organ transplant
Protect and Prevent
Along with detection, prevention is also in your control!
It’s all fun and games until your day in the sun results in a painful sunburn. Once the initial sting wears off, and the redness fades, you might think the worst of it is over, but they’re not as harmless as you may think. Having five or more sunburns actually doubles your risk for melanoma.
The two scientifically-proven main causes of skin cancer are exposure to the sun’s UV rays and the use of UV tanning machines. However, this does not mean you have to hole up inside every day. There are easy precautions you can take to protect your skin while still having fun outdoors!
The best defense is a good offense, and in this case, that’s sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks UV rays from damaging your skin, and if regularly applied, it can cut your risk of skin cancer in half! Although sunscreen is often associated with the summer months, it’s beneficial to wear every day year-round. Sunscreen not only fights skin cancer triggers but also helps you maintain an even skin tone and prevent wrinkles, fine lines, and premature aging.
Everyone’s skin is different, and some people may require a higher number of sun protection factor (SPF) than others. Not sure what number SPF is right for your skin tone? Check out Banana Boat’s helpful SPF selection guide here.
For ultimate protection from UV rays, be sure to slip, slop, slap, and wrap before you go outside.
- Slip on a shirt
- Slop on sunscreen
- Slap on a hat
- Wrap on sunglasses
With increased outside activity, summertime also brings more burns, cuts, and injuries. Tucson ER & Hospital is here for our community, no matter what the medical emergency may be. Visit our facility, open 24/7, for quick and comprehensive care.
Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Tucson ER & Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.