With summer just around the corner, there’s no doubt most of us will gear up for a season of outdoor fun, from biking and hiking to wakeboarding and waterskiing.
Just as we might safeguard ourselves with a helmet or life vest, our skin requires its own layer of protection from the sun’s harmful rays, in the form of a good dose of sunscreen. We may be more conscientious to lather up at the beach or on vacation, but most of us leave the house daily without a drop of SPF on our faces or bodies. This habit could prove deadly as skin cancers become more and more common in our community.
“Most do not adequately and routinely protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays,” says Dr. Timothy J. Rosio, M.D., of AnewSKIN Dermatology in El Dorado Hills and Auburn. “More than one million non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed each year, and approximately one person dies from melanoma every hour in the U.S.” If current trends continue, Dr. Rosio predicts one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. He points to statistics that go back almost 80 years. “In 1930, one in 5,000 Americans was likely to develop melanoma during their lifetime. By 2004, this ratio jumped to one in 65.” Surprisingly, melanoma, not breast cancer, is the most common potentially fatal cancer in young women. Rates are also increasing at an alarming pace in most young children and older adults.
This year alone nearly 8,000 deaths will be attributed to melanoma, yet when detected early, skin cancer has a 95 percent cure rate. The earlier you detect skin cancer, before it causes damage or spreads, the better your chances are for a complete cure. Dr. Rosio recommends everyone conduct self-examinations and see a dermatologist if you find something new on your skin that continues to change or looks suspicious. He points out three important facts about skin cancer that all readers should pay attention to:
1. FAST: With cases of melanoma occurring at a rapid rate, you must act now. The worst skin cancer occurs in the non-sun-exposed trunk and bathing short areas. Always remember to apply sunscreen to the bottom of your feet and between your toes.
2. FIRST: Because the earliest diagnosis is vital to achieving a 95 percent or greater cure rate with melanoma, FIRST have your dermatologist perform a baseline and periodic skin exam to determine your relative risks and evaluate any suspicious or changing lesions. Anyone can see a dermatologist at any time. No referral is needed.
3. FOCUS: Learn from your dermatologist how to perform your own monthly self skin exam, including the main non-sun-exposed skin areas where melanoma is most likely to strike. Using a full-length mirror and a handheld mirror, check your entire body for moles and other lesions that look suspect.
Remember, many skin cancers are preventable. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is compatible with your skin type, one that won’t rapidly degrade or irritate. It’s also recommended to use sun protective clothing and hats or seek shade between prime sun hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. With good habits and a smart approach, you can enjoy the great outdoors and keep your skin radiant and healthy for years to come.
For more about Safe Sun Skin Care, be sure to pick up this month's copy of Style. Click on the "Get Your Copy" link on this Web site for some of our newsstand locations. Or, to order a copy of this issue, please email email@example.com, or call 916-988-9888.