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Skin cancer

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From MayoClinic.com



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 rays.

  • Use sunscreen. 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.

  • Avoid tanning 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 Dermatology:

  • A is for asymmetrical shape. Look for moles with irregular shapes, such as two very different-looking halves.

  • B is for irregular border. Look for moles with irregular, notched or scalloped borders — the characteristics of melanomas.

  • C is for changes in color. Look for growths that have many colors or an uneven distribution of color.

  • D 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:

  • Age 20 to 39: Every three years

  • Age 40 or older: Annually

If you've had skin cancer, follow your doctor's advice for a follow-up schedule of examinations.

Coping skills

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 scar?

  • Will I have to make changes in my everyday activities?

  • Can I get skin cancer again?

  • How 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 checkups?

Skin cancer  > 1 > 2 > 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 condition.
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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