According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Like any other form of the disease, skin cancer involves out-of-control growth of cells. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most common. Though melanoma is rarer, it’s also more aggressive and spreads easily to other body parts.
At MD Vein & Skin Specialists, a key focus of our practice is skin cancer. We screen for and treat cancerous lesions and offer mole mapping services so you can track your skin condition over time.
A common question is, “Is it possible to avoid skin cancer?” While most skin cancers are preventable, the mutations responsible for rapid skin cell growth sometimes happen without a known reason. Let’s look at how skin cancers start and the best strategies to lower your risks.
Ultraviolet (UV) light: the enemy
Mutations happen in skin cells when the DNA within them gets damaged. The most common culprit is UV light from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds. The biggest single preventive factor for reducing skin cancer risk is controlling your exposure to UV light.
Unfortunately, UV exposure is cumulative. Sunburns from years ago boost your cancer risk, and you can do nothing to turn back this clock. People whose work or lifestyle keeps them outdoors in the daytime and those with fair skin also carry a higher risk. A family history of skin cancer can also predict future issues.
Reducing the risk of sun cancer
It’s important to consider UV exposure at all times, throughout the day, all year round. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a UV index search for the country. When the index is 3 or higher in your area, consider these steps to protect yourself from UV light:
- Avoid going outside when possible during the peak UV hours, 9am to 3pm during standard time and 10am to 4pm during daylight savings time
- Seek shade when you’re outside
- Choose a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face, ears and neck
- Use wraparound sunglasses offering UVA and UVB protection
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) minimum of 15
- Reapply sunscreen as recommended
- Choose clothing with long sleeves and long legs
Avoid tanning in the sun or in tanning salons. Your skin darkens in response to UV damage.
A comprehensive approach
Daily diligence against the onslaught of UV rays is the best way to avoid skin cancer. You can protect yourself further by doing regular checks of your skin as well as booking annual skin cancer screenings with MD Vein & Skin Specialists. Call our office or use our online booking link to make an appointment with Dr. Clement Banda and his team today.