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Advanced Dermatology Center Recognizes Skin Cancer Awareness Month

During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, our board-certified dermatologists at Advanced Dermatology Center want you to know it is never too early or too late to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. By educating yourself about risk factors, you take an important step in protecting your health. Knowing skin cancer risk factors and practicing year-round sun protection are the most important factors in reducing your risk.

Skin cancer is extremely common, affecting one in five Americans at some point before age 70, and more people are diagnosed with it every year than all other cancers combined. While these statistics are alarming, there is good news: Skin cancer is highly preventable because it is chiefly caused by frequent sun exposure and sunburns. The Skin Cancer Association estimates as many as 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 86% of melanomas are associated with ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure from the sun.

What Causes Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer results from the abnormal growth of skin cells and the vast majority of those diagnosed with skin cancer have been exposed to sunburns from UV light. Frequent UV light exposure can damage the DNA in your skin cells, causing them to grow out of control. Sunburns don’t even have to be raw, peeling, or blistering to cause skin damage – if your skin is pink or red from sun exposure, it’s sunburnt. For those with darker skin tones, the skin may instead feel warm to the touch, irritated, itchy, or tender rather than have a red appearance.

Skin cancer has different subtypes, and some are life-threatening without treatment. Melanoma is by far the most dangerous type of skin cancer, although it is not as common as the less dangerous skin cancers known as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. While survival rates are excellent for patients who receive prompt diagnosis and treatment for any type of skin cancer, thousands of Americans die from melanoma every year. Survival rates for melanoma vary depending on whether skin lesions and tumors have spread throughout the body. For example, if melanoma spreads from its original location to distant organs, the 5-year survival rate is only 23%.

Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Developing Skin Cancer

These tips can help protect you from developing skin cancer:

  • Protect your skin while outdoors. People who spend considerable time outdoors should take steps to protect their skin by wearing full-spectrum, high SPF sunscreen. “SPF” stands for “sun protection factor,” and a good SPF number is 30 or higher. You should wear sunscreen even on cloudy days, as sunburns are possible in any weather.
  • Do not tan. There is no safe amount of tanning. When the skin darkens from a suntan, it means it is producing more melanin as a result of damage from UV light. Natural sunlight is not the only threat to your skin, either. Exposure to the UV-emitting lamps found in tanning salon beds also put you at risk of skin damage.
  • Watch moles for any changes or irregularities. People with moles are at increased risk of skin cancer, even if they do not get frequent sunburns. A dermatologist can examine any moles you have to check for common signs of skin cancer.
  • Be more cautious if you have a family or personal history of previous skin cancer. If one of your parents or siblings has had skin cancer, you are at an increased risk of developing it as well. Similarly, if you have previously had skin cancer lesions, you are at risk of developing more.
  • Protect fair skin: While a person with any skin color can develop skin cancer, those who have fair skin or less pigmented skin are at an increased risk. Individuals who freckle or sunburn easily must be very careful to protect their skin in the sun.
  • Be aware of sun-sensitizing medication: Some common medications can make your skin more sensitive to sunburns, such as antibiotics or topical creams for acne.
  • See your dermatologist for skin checks every year: A dermatologist can examine your skin to check for skin cancer, particularly any new growth, moles, freckles, or bumps.

Schedule Your Appointment with Our Board-Certified Dermatologist

No one is immune from the risk of skin cancer, regardless of skin color, age, or gender. If you haven’t been checked recently for skin cancer, consider booking an appointment with Advanced Dermatology Center for a skin checkup.

Contact Advanced Dermatology Center at (818) 284-4003 for an appointment with our board-certified dermatologists.