According to the American Cancer Society, there will be about 82,770 NEW cases of skin cancer this year (this figure excludes basal and squamous types of cancer). Melanoma only accounts for less than 5% of all the skin cancer cases, but does count for the majority of deaths related to skin cancer. However, there is a 91% chance of surviving melanoma of the skin, if it’s caught early. Because we are focusing on safety in the heat, this article is designed to give you a few tips on the recognition of unusual skin growths, and what you can do to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.
Symptoms of melanoma include changes in size, shape or color of a mole or skin lesion, or a new growth on the skin. Changes that happen over a month or more, should be seen by a physician.
Early detection is key. Remember the ABCD rule:
- A is for Asymmetry. One 1/2 of the mole doesn’t match the other half.
- B is for Border. The edges of the mole are ragged or blurred.
- C is for Color. The color of the mole is not the same. The shades can be tan, brown, or black.
- D is for Diameter larger than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser).
Other types of melanoma may not have these exact signs, so make sure you are watching for new or changing skin growths.
People with a family history of melanoma, or a large number of moles, are at a higher risk for melanoma. Also, people that are sensitive to the sun, have light colored hair such as blonde or red, or excessive sun exposure (which can include sunburns, indoor tanning beds, or those who work outside) are at a higher risk for skin cancer.
In order to protect your skin from the damaging sun exposure, follow these tips:
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or higher daily. Make sure to cover your face, neck (front and back), ears, and any other part of your skin that is not covered with fabric.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim if you are going to be out in the sun.
- Seek out shade, especially in the hottest part of the day.
- Avoid sunbathing outside or indoor tanning. Indoor tanning exposes the body to additional UV radiation, which is associated with a risk of developing cancer.
- Wear sunglasses to protect the area around your eyes.
- Wear clothing that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
Working in the sun can be tough. Make sure you are protecting yourself and your skin. Be safe out there!
This article, in no way, can replace the diagnosis of a trained medical physician, and it is not designed to do so. If you have questions regarding your health, it is essential to seek a professional medical evaluation.