I have been blessed with a long career in Dermatology and am passionate about skin care. I often say that two of my life’s missions are to find skin cancers and rid the world of acne. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and I thought it would be a perfect time to share some facts about skin cancer that you may not know…
- Each year in the U.S. over 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people.
- Each year, there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
- Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. More than 4 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 1 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
- Organ transplant patients are approximately 100 times more likely than the general public to develop squamous cell carcinoma.
- About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
- One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 54 minutes).
- Melanoma accounts for less than one percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
- On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns. http://www.skincancer.org/
The humbling truth about skin cancer is that while there are more cases diagnosed each year than breast, colon, lung and prostate cancer combined, at least half of my patients still do not wear sunscreen. Tanning beds still exist and people still use them. Melanoma has directly affected three of my family members and my family has seen how quickly it can take a life.
What can we do to prevent skin cancer?
- Regular skin checks with your primary provider or in Dermatology.
- Wear sunscreen when outdoors, for long car rides, on your face year round in a moisturizer
- Make an appointment for any lesions that are non-healing, bleeding, rapidly growing or changing.
- Use sunless tanners if you wish to have tan complexion.
When choosing a sunscreen, please remember:
- We should wear sunscreen every day. All skin types and ethnic groups are at risk for skin cancer. Infants under 6 months should not wear sunscreen, but rather be kept in the shade.
- You get sun exposure even on cloudy days.
- Check the expiration date on your bottle. All sunscreens are required by the FDA to last for 3 years. Throw your’s out and get a new bottle if it has expired.
- Windows do not protect us from UV sun damage. If you have an office with windows or drive for your job or are planning a road trip, you should wear sunscreen.
- We should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out, to allow it to completely absorb into our skin. And then re-apply every 2 hours.
And if you have any spots that you are concerned about, be sure to make an appointment to have them looked at!
When in doubt, check it out!