Shield Yourself from Skin Cancer
With summer around the corner, it is important to remember to practice proper sun protection and understand the risks of skin cancer - the most common type of cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 2 million new skin cancers will be diagnosed this year alone.
The odds of developing skin cancer increase with age. Other risk factors include having fair skin that freckles, a family history of skin cancer, and more than 50 moles. However, the most preventable cause of skin cancer is excessive sun exposure. Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure (both natural and artificial) has been proven to be the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. To help minimize your risk of skin cancer, Silver Cross Hospital suggests the following tips:
- Generously apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 to all exposed skin. “Broad-spectrum” sunscreen provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, whenever possible.
- Seek shade when the sun's rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Protect children from sun exposure by playing in the shade, wearing protective clothing, and applying sunscreen every hour.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.
- Avoid tanning. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you've been in the sun, try an alternative method such as spray tans.
- Check yourself. A change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole or an unusual new mole is often the first sign of melanoma, the rarest but deadliest form of skin cancer. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.
“To help detect skin cancer at an early stage, become familiar with your moles and birthmarks,” said Dr. Jessica Kappelman, dermatologist on staff at Silver Cross Hospital. “Then, every month, check your entire body in the mirror for skin changes, including your back, scalp, and feet. A handheld mirror can help ensure a thorough self-exam.”
In honor of National Skin Cancer Awareness month, Dr. Jessica Kappelman, dermatologist, will provide screenings the following Thursday, May 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register here to attend or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325). Screenings will be held at the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health, 1870 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox.