Skin Cancer Awareness
Summer is coming, and we know soaking up sunshine outside is your favorite pastime! However, those sunbeams can be very dangerous if you’re not careful and don’t prepare correctly. May 28 is National Don’t Fry Day, a day dedicated to raising skin cancer awareness and what can happen if you get too much sunlight. Your skin is at risk of developing more than just sunburns and freckles – skin cancer is a real risk if you’re spending time out in the sun! More than 3 million Americans are diagnosed annually, so it’s important to be aware.
Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is a result of damage to the top layer of your skin, which can result in mutations in your skin cells. These mutations can form dangerous tumors and present as cancer. The main types are:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
- Merkel Cell Carcinogen (MCC)
Basal Cell and Squamous Cell carcinomas are the two most common types that often present as growths on the skin. Exposure to too much sun and its UV rays are also the most common reason for developing these, although it’s not the only cause.
Who Is At High Risk
Anyone with long-term sun and UV rays exposure is at risk of developing skin cancer. In fact, 1 out of 5 Americans will develop skin damage by the age of 70. Certain traits can increase your chances. People with these characteristics are at a greater risk for skin cancer:
- Light or red hair
- Blue or green eyes
- Lighter skin color that burns, freckles and reddens easily
- Skin moles
- A family or personal history of skin cancer
- Old age
People with these traits should be especially careful when outside, even if it’s cloudy. UV rays are almost always around, and they can do serious damage if you’re not properly prepared.
How To Reduce Your Risk
While you won’t be able to 100% protect yourself from skin damage and cancer, there are a few steps you can take to significantly decrease your chances. Such as:
- Using and reapplying SPF 15+ sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection
- Wearing hats and long shirts/pants outside
- Staying in shaded areas and using other protective measures
Again, these do not guarantee you won’t develop skin cancer, but taking these steps can significantly help to decrease your chances. You don’t have to avoid going outside, but it’s important to take care of yourself when you do!
If you have concerns about developing skin cancer, or any form of cancer, you can visit our Cancer Care page on Comanche County Memorial Hospital’s website to see your next steps and schedule an appointment with our cancer care physicians. Our Cancer Care page can also take you to the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma website, where you can find more information about potential free cancer screenings. Skin cancer awareness is only the first step in fighting back against this condition.
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Skin Cancer Foundation. https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/