Summer is almost here. The longer, sunnier days can result in more exposure to the sun. Studies show that increased sun exposure is directly correlated with the likelihood of developing melanoma.
“Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Walter Quan, Jr., MD, melanoma expert and chief medical oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Arizona. “Over 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the U.S. It’s easy for people to underestimate their risk for developing skin cancer by over-exposure to the sun. It is crucial to decrease one’s exposure to harmful radiation – even on cooler days.”
Enjoy the warmer weather, and keep these sun safety tips in mind:
- Perform outdoor activities before 11:00 a.m. and after 3:00 p.m. to avoid high-risk hours.
- Avoid getting sunburn by wearing sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the better.
- Eat nutrient-rich foods, like avocados, carrots and citrus fruit.
- Wear a broad-rimmed hat to protect your face and head.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding beverages with alcohol or caffeine.
Early detection is the best protection when it comes to skin cancer. It’s important to know what to look for so you can talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your skin.
Learn your ABCDE’s of skin cancer:
- A — Asymmetric
- B — Borders that are irregular or ragged rather than smooth
- C — Color variation in the same mole (a mole that is more than one color or if you notice that a mole has changed color, particularly if it has become black or dark
- D — Diameter of more than 6 mm, that is, a new or enlarging mole that is larger around than the eraser on a #2 pencil
- E — Elevation or heaping up of a pre-existing mole
Skin cancer usually does not hurt. If you or someone you know notices a new skin lesion/mole OR a change in something you have had before, see your internist or dermatologist right away. In the case of a child, you should take them to their pediatrician as soon as possible.
Explore our skin cancer infographic.