Summer is quickly approaching, and that can only mean one thing – Sunshine!
Well, here in sunny Arizona, where I live, we have sun year round. But who doesn’t like sunshine? There is such a thing as too much sunshine. This month’s topic is Skin Cancer Awareness.
I’m sure you’ve heard about melanoma skin cancer. This is a serious type of skin cancer that can quickly grow out of control. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, even in areas covered by clothing. The American Academy of Dermatology reports:
- 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime
- 1 person dies every hour from melanoma
- A little over 9,000 people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer every day.
- If caught and treated early there is a 98% fiver-year survival rate
What can you do?
Every person should be doing a self-exam on a frequent basis, especially if you spend a good amount of time outdoors. Take some time at least once a month to check your skin. Have your partner or spouse check those hard to see areas such as your back. If you see something you want to follow the ABCDE’s of melanoma and contact your doctor for further evaluation.
The ABCDE’s of Melanoma:
A – Asymmetry = uneven shaped spot
B – Border = irregular border on the spot
C – Color = the spot can have one to a few colors (i.e. tan, brown, black, red, blue)
D – Diameter = the spot is greater than the size of a pencil eraser
E – Evolving = the spot looks different from the rest and is changing in size, shape or color
Tips for Summer Fun
- Keep yourself covered – protect your skin from the sun UV rays
- Wear Sunglasses – protect your eyes from UV radiation
- Find some shade – find some shade or make some shade with an umbrella.
- Schedule outdoor activities wisely – go outdoors when the sun is low in the sky such as early morning or late afternoon.
- Check UV index – go to UV Index Check to check your local UV Index.
- Protect your skin with skin friendly sunscreens – visit the environmental working group web page, Safe Sunscreens, to find safe and friendly sunscreens.
American Academy of Dermatology – SPOT Skin Cancer
Environmental Working Group
Screening and Early Detection of Melanoma – UpToDate
By Jorge Reveron
Jorge is a fourth year student at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. He received a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in Fitness and Human Performance from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He has a passion for education, and global and community health. His interests include family and adolescent health, pediatrics, and tropical medicine.