Most skin cancers are preventable. To best protect your health and skin,
take the following steps:
Limit your time
in the sun.
Avoid staying in the sun so long that you get a sunburn or a suntan.
Both result in skin damage that can increase your risk of developing
skin cancer. Sun exposure accumulated over time also may cause skin
cancer. In addition to minimizing your time in the sun, set time
limits for your child when at the pool or beach. Snow, water and ice
all reflect the sun's harmful rays, and UV rays are strongest
between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Clouds block only a small portion of UV
Before spending time outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with
a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Some sunscreens
contain substances that block UVA as well as UVB rays. To identify
them, look on the ingredient labels for avobenzone, titanium,
dioxide, and transparent or microdispersed zinc oxide. Use sunscreen
on all exposed skin, including your lips. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes
before sun exposure, and reapply it every few hours or more often if
you swim or sweat. Apply sunscreen to infants or young children
before going outdoors and teach older children and teens how to use
sunscreen to protect themselves. Keep a bottle of sunscreen in your
car, your boat, with your gardening tools, and with your sports and
camping gear to remind yourself and your family to use it. For extra
protection wear tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and
legs and a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than a
baseball cap or golf visor. You might also consider wearing clothing
or outdoor gear specially designed to provide sun protection.
beds and tan-accelerating agents.
Tanning beds emit UVA rays, which are often touted as less dangerous
than UVB rays. But UVA light penetrates deeper into your skin,
causes precancerous skin lesions and increases your risk of skin
cancer. As for suntan-accelerating products, the Food and Drug
Administration warns against their use. Bronzing lotions that
produce a tanned look without any sun exposure are a safe choice.
Check your skin
regularly and report changes to your doctor.
Examine your skin regularly — monthly if you have had skin cancer,
have multiple moles or are at increased risk of skin cancer, and at
least every three months otherwise — looking for the development of
new skin growths or changes in existing moles, freckles, bumps and
birthmarks. With the help of mirrors, check your face, neck, ears
and scalp. Examine your chest and trunk, and the tops and undersides
of your arms and hands. Examine both the front and the back of your
legs, and your feet, including your soles and the spaces between
your toes. Also check your genital area and between your buttocks.
To detect melanomas or other skin cancers, use the following A-B-C-D
skin self-examination guide, adapted from the American Academy of
is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular
shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.
is for irregular border. Look for moles with irregular,
notched or scalloped borders — the characteristics of melanomas.
is for changes in color. Look for growths that have many
colors or an uneven distribution of color.
is for diameter. Look for growths that
are larger than about 1/4 inch (6 millimeters).
If you have a family history of melanoma and have many moles on your
body — especially on your trunk, where you may be less likely to notice
changes — consider having regular examinations by a dermatologist. A
general guideline for skin examinations is:
If you've had skin cancer, follow your doctor's advice for a follow-up
schedule of examinations.
Skin cancer accounts for about half of all cancers. Yet it accounts for very few cancer deaths because it's
highly treatable in most cases. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are
considered curable most of the time if detected and treated early.
Still, any diagnosis of cancer can be frightening. It's natural to have
questions, particularly if you've been diagnosed with melanoma — the
most serious type of skin cancer. Treatment for melanoma may be more
involved if the cancer has spread.
If you have any questions about skin cancer or its treatments, talk to
your doctor. He or she can help answer concerns such as:
What types of
treatment are available?
Are there any
risks or side effects of treatment?
Will I have a
Will I have to
make changes in my everyday activities?
Can I get skin
can I protect my skin in the future?
How often do I
need to recheck my body for skin cancer or see my doctor for
3 > 4
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This information is
provided for general medical education purposes only and
is not meant to substitute for the independent medical
judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and
treatment options of a specific patient's medical
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any
decision made or action taken in reliance upon the
information provided through this web site.
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