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How Can You Prevent Skin Cancer

Know What To Look For

Expert offers tips on how to prevent skin cancer

There are three main types of skin cancerbasal cell, squamous cell, and melanomaand they can have different appearances, says Dr. Herman. Some skin cancers can also be hard for the average person to discern as they resemble eczema, dry skin, or psoriasis.

Dr. Hermans advice? If you have a new growth or spot thats changing color, growing, bleeding, not healing, seems like its healing and then scabs over, or seems like it went away and then comes back, those are all good indications that you need to get checked by a dermatologist, she advises.

Dr. Lenzy recommends taking a look at your whole body at least once a month and seeing a dermatologist for a baseline screening, typically at least once a year.

Skin Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Skin

The skin is the bodys largest organ. It protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Skin also helps control body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D. The skin has several layers, but the two main layers are the epidermis and the dermis .

The epidermis is made up of 3 kinds of cells:

  • Squamous cells are the thin, flat cells that make up most of the epidermis.
  • Basal cells are the round cells under the squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes are found throughout the lower part of the epidermis. They make melanin, thepigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment, causing the skin to tan, or darken.

See the following PDQ summaries for more information about skin cancer:

Get Skin Cancer Screenings

Even if you dont have any skin concerns, its a good idea to have yearly skin cancer screening checks with a dermatologist. Theyll be able to see areas of your body you cant easily monitor.

A dermatologist will also be able to evaluate any moles or other skin growths for the possibility of skin cancer. If a mole has suspicious features and looks like it may be malignant , removing it early may prevent it from spreading to other areas of your body.

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Skin Cancer Is The Most Common Cancer In The United States

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer in the United States. The number of new cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer appears to be increasing every year. These nonmelanoma skin cancers can usually be cured.

The number of new cases of melanoma has been increasing for at least 40 years. Melanoma is more likely to spread to nearby tissues and other parts of the body and can be harder to cure. Finding and treating melanoma skin cancer early may help prevent death from melanoma.

Wear Upf Clothing When Youre Outdoors

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Many people dont apply sunscreen because they dont want to stop what theyre doing to reapply, or they simply lose track of time and forget to slather more on every two hours. UPF clothing is a great option for people who dont want to worry about refreshing their sun lotion throughout the day because UPF clothings effectiveness does not wear off over time.

UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor, and its a system of measuring how much UV light an article of clothing blocks. For example, a UPF rating of 50 means that only 1/50th of the suns rays can get through the fabric to reach your skin. You can find many long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and more that provide hassle-free protection for your skin.

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Tip #: Wear A Hat And Sunglasses

It is advisable to wear wide-brimmed hats that shade your ears, neck, and face whenever you are outdoors or in sunny areas. It is also a good idea to wear sunglasses that provide 99% to 100% UV protection, as this accessory will protect your eyes while also preventing exposure to the delicate surrounding skin.

Get Your Skin Examined

Regular examining of skin can prevent the onset of the cancer or early diagnosis can help treat it at an early stage.

One can contact their nearby dermatologist and fix appointments for skin screenings.

This helps doctors monitor the symptoms and damage that is not self examinable.

The doctors can remove the moles before they become cancerous or spread to other parts of the body.

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Dont Use Tanning Beds

Its widely known that tanning beds are linked to skin cancers, including melanoma the deadliest type of skin cancer.

People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. And its not just your skin thats at risk: Exposure to the UV radiation that tanning beds emit also can cause cataracts and cancers of your eyes. Snyder says even occasional sunbed use almost triples your chances of developing melanoma. Young people including teenagers are especially sensitive to the UV rays that tanning beds emit.

If you really prefer the healthy glow of tanned skin, there are many sunless tanners and bronzers available that create that sun-kissed look without the risk of skin cancer. These are cosmetics applied to the skin like a cream or spray and can provide a temporary, artificial tan. The only color additive currently approved by FDA for this purpose is dihydroxyacetone .

If you do use a sunless tanner, be sure to still apply sunscreen when going out in the sun as most sunless tanning products dont contain sunscreen, she says.

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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Local treatment can help prevent skin cancer before it appears

Most skin cancers can be prevented, but this requires education of the public. Besides the physician, both the nurse and pharmacist can play a valuable role in this type of intervention. The public needs to know that besides the sun other risk factors for skin cancer include tanning beds and chemical exposure like arsenia. For those who prefer the outdoor lifestyle, they need to wear sun protective clothing, discontinue smoking, wear sunglasses and liberally use UV protection sunscreen. Finally, patients need to know to how to examine their skin and when to see a healthcare provider.

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Avoid The Sun As Much As Possible When The Sun Is Strong

If it is very hot and sunny, wherever you live, stay in the shade or indoors as much as possible between 11 am and 3 pm in the summer months . This applies all year round in hotter countries nearer to the equator. This middle time of the day is when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. Trees, umbrellas and canopies can all provide good shade.

What Is Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. There are 3 main types of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are also called nonmelanoma skin cancer, and they are much more common than melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous of these cancers.

Skin cancer can almost always be cured when its found and treated early. Thats why its a good idea to check your skin regularly for new growths or changes in old growths. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you notice a change.

To learn more about skin cancer, check out:

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What Are The Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer On The Eyelid

During monthly skin self-exams, patients should look for the following warning signs that are often indicative of eyelid skin cancer:

  • A growth, bump, spot, or lesion on the eyelid or the skin around the eyes that may grow very slowly and may be a variety of colors
  • Recurrent stye or chalazion that doesnt resolve with treatment by a physician
  • Unexplained loss of eyelashes or eyebrows
  • Wounds on the eyelid or skin around the eyes that dont heal or heal very slowly
  • Infection of the eyelid or skin around the eyes that doesnt clear up
  • Inflammation, swelling, or thickening of the skin on the eyelid and around the eyes
  • Pain or tenderness of the eyelid or skin around the eyes

Avoid Weakening Your Immune System

Skin Cancer Prevention

Having a weakened immune system increases your risk of getting melanoma and other types of skin cancer.

Infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can weaken the immune system. Avoiding known risk factors for HIV infection, such as intravenous drug use and having unprotected sex with many partners, might lower your risk of skin cancer and many other types of cancer.

Some people need to take medicines to suppress their immune system. This includes people who have had organ transplants and some people with autoimmune diseases. People with cancer also sometimes need to take medicines such as chemotherapy that can lower their immune function. For these people, the benefit from taking these medicines will likely far outweigh the small increased risk of getting skin cancer.

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Reddish Rash On Your Hands Or Back: Any Cancer

Dermatomyositis tends to appear as changes around your nail folds, a reddish rash on the back of your hands, especially around the knuckles, and a shawl-like red rash on your back.

This rash can be associated with any type of cancer.

It can also appear on your face, eyelids, chest, knees and elbows.

Dermatomyositis can also cause muscle weakness and inflamed muscles.

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What Are The Risk Factors For Skin Cancer

Anyone can get skin cancer, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines several characteristics that can put people at a greater risk:

  • Lighter natural skin color
  • Certain types of moles or a large number of moles
  • A family or personal history of skin cancer
  • Older age

Dawn Holman, MPH, a behavioral scientist in epidemiology and applied research at the CDCs division of cancer prevention and control, stresses that even though risk factors are higher in people with fair skin, people with all skin types are susceptible to skin cancer and can benefit from sun protection and staying alert to changes in their skin.

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How To Prevent Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer, so knowing how to prevent skin cancer is important. Most cases are directly tied to sun exposure, so how you choose to protect your skin from the rays will have an enormous impact on your chances of developing basal cell, squamous cell, or melanoma.

As with other cancers, early detection is crucial, which means you need to know what skin changes to watch for. However, it is equally vital that you take steps to reduce your skin cancer risk now, with a few extra additions to your daily routine.

Pay Attention To What Youre Eating

How to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer

Theres a reason dietitians say you should fill your plate with a mix of brightly-hued fruits and vegetables: All of these have what we call phytonutrientsphyto meaning plants, so nutrients from plantsand antioxidants that are very protective against free radical damage in the skin, says Dr. Herman.

She recommends eating whole foods because they may have other nutrients that we havent yet learned about that may work synergistically with others that we do know about.

Along those same lines, you might want to cut back on alcohol and keep enjoying your caffeinated coffeetwo strategies that research shows might reduce your melanoma risk.

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Don’t Use Tanning Beds

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, tanning beds or tanning lamps that are used by people for the tan look are extremely harmful and increase the risk of cancers like melanoma by 20 percent.

These equipments have warning signs that clearly state the risks. So read all the cautionary information before you choose to use them.

Complementary And Alternative Therapies

Alternative treatments are aimed at preventing rather than treating skin cancer. Some CAM treatments may reduce the side effects of conventional treatments, such as chemotherapy.

You should never rely on alternative therapies alone for treating skin cancer. Make sure all of your doctors know if you plan to use any CAM therapies along with conventional cancer treatments. Some CAM therapies can interfere with conventional cancer therapies.

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How Much Do Factors Like Sun Exposure Ethnicity And Age Affect An Individuals Risk Of Skin Cancer

A persons lifetime exposure to UV rays from sunburns, tanning booths, and chronic sun exposure is a major risk factor for all types of skin cancer. Those with fair skin are at higher risk because they have less pigment in their skin to protect them from damaging ultraviolet rays. However, it is really important for those with more darkly pigmented skin to know the signs of skin cancer and check their skin too, because although at lower risk, they are not immune. In terms of age, those with older skin have accumulated more damage from the sun, and BCC and SCC typically affect individuals who are middle-aged or older. Melanoma is more equal-opportunity. We see cases throughout life, including in the late teens or early 20s, especially in young women who have used indoor tanning.

Can Your Diet Help Prevent Skin Cancer

Pin by Erin Guimaraes on HEALTH

Growing evidence shows that foods high in certain nutrients may indeed help and certainly cant hurt.


You see your dermatologist twice a year for a full-body skin exam. You wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses outside and stay under an umbrella at the beach or pool. You always use a broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher sunscreen outdoors and reapply it at least every two hours. You avoid tanning beds like the plague.

After all those precautions, is there anything more you can do to avoid skin cancer? You may think the answer is no. However, one other key strategy you can use is simply to eat as healthy as you can.

Nonmelanoma skin cancers , including basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma , are the most common cancers in America. Some 5.4 million cases of NMSC are treated in more than 3 million people every year, but recent research shows that certain dietary changes may be one way to bring those numbers down.

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Ask Your Doc About Sun

If you frequently eat nutrient-rich produce in a wide array of colors, youre already providing your body with lots of supportive vitamins and minerals. But some supplements might help kick your skin protection up a little bit.

Dr. Herman says that research currently supports two supplements. The first is Heliocare, which contains a plant extract called Polypodium leucotomos extract that may help protect your skin from free radicals. Then, theres niacin , which may reduce the risk of squamous-cell and basal-cell skin cancers. Before trying a new supplement, talk to your dermatologist to see if it make sense for you.

How To Protect Your Skin In The Sun

Naiara Braghiroli, MD, PhD, a dermatologist with Baptist Healths Miami Cancer Institute, offers a few practical tips to protect your skin from daily sun damage.

  • Avoid peak hours. Try to avoid going outdoors when the sun’s rays are at their strongestbetween 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If this is not possible, seek shade during these hours.
  • Wear protective clothing. Ultraviolet Protection Factor clothing is one of the easiest ways to protect your skin from the sun. Complement your look with a hat to help protect your scalp, face, and neck.

Experts say there are three key things to keep in mind when purchasing a daily sunscreen.

  • Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Choose a product with a sun protection factor of 30 or greater.
  • Think about the activities you’ll be taking part in while you’re outside, such as swimming or boating. Water-resistant sunscreen will wear off less quickly than one that is not water-resistant.

If you are spending time at the beach, pool, or lake, you are at double risk of exposure to UV rays as you not only face direct sunlight but also light reflecting off the water. As such, you are more predisposed for sunburn, Braghiroli says. If you are using a water-resistant sunscreen, reapply every 40 minutes. If using a very water-resistant sunscreen, reapply every 80 minutes.

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What If I Have Darker Skin

While people of color are less at risk for skin cancer caused by UV radiation, its important that they protect their skin nevertheless, Braghiroli says.

Early skin cancer can be harder to spot on darker skin. Braghiroli advises regular skin exams and routine visits to a dermatologist to identify areas of concern. Early detection is key in curing melanoma, so if you find an unusual spot, mole, or skin area, its critical to see your dermatologist right away.

Braghiroli points out that “seventy-five percent of skin cancers diagnosed in people of color are in areas that are not exposed to the sun, such as the palms of the hands, nail beds, soles of the feet, inside the mouth and/or the genitalia area.”

Given their location, these skin cancers are less likely to be diagnosed early and come with a higher mortality rate for people of color. “The estimated five-year melanoma survival rate for Black individuals is 67% versus 92% for whites,” Braghiroli says.

But that doesn’t mean sunscreen use doesn’t matter for people with darker skin tones. Braghiroli says it’s still essential.


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