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How To Avoid Skin Cancer

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

How To Prevent Skin Cancer

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 Can You Do To Catch Skin Cancer Early

Keep an eye out for changes in your skin: new or changing spots , or a spot that itches, bleeds, or wont heal. Make a habit of regularly checking your entire skin surface from head to toe, perhaps once a month. You dont have to memorize each spot, just get familiar with the types of spots you have so that youll spot an “ugly duckling” more easily. Once you get used to it, a thorough exam will take only a few minutes. To help guide your self-exam, check out the UM Rogel Cancer Centers Skin Cancer Screening Card: Be Smart About Your Skin, Know Your ABCDs and the UMSkinCheck App. Be sure to have anything you think is suspicious checked out by your dermatologist, and consider having an annual skin check completed by your dermatologist or primary physician.

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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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.

Avoid Direct Sunlight During Peak Times

Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer

If you can avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., do it. This is when the suns rays are strongest. Checking the daily UV index for your area is also a good habit and can help you avoid especially dangers periods of exposure.

The Environmental Protection Agency maintains an online resource called the SunWise Program which provides the UVindex forecast for your area. You can even sign up for a free UV Alert to receive email notifications when the risk of overexposure is greater than normal.

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Nicotinamide May Help Prevent Certain Skin Cancers

Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that has been shown to reduce the number of skin cancers. In a randomized controlled trial performed in Australia , the risks of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma were significantly reduced by 23%. Nicotinamide has protective effects against ultraviolet damage caused by sun exposure. The vitamin is safe and can be purchased over the counter. We recommended starting the vitamin to all our patients with a history of a basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, or with extensive skin damage due to sun exposure. One caveat is that the vitamin must be taken continuously, as the benefits are lost once stopped.

How Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented

The most important preventive measure is to avoid excessive exposure to the sun. Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight damages the genetic material DNA in skin cell genes. This increases the risk that a normal cell will start growing abnormally and become cancerous. UV rays also damage the structure of the skin in ways that cause premature skin aging and wrinkling.

Prevention must begin in childhood. That’s because most people get about 50% of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18.

Need To Know:

Practical measures to prevent skin cancer include:

  • Staying out of the sun, especially between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the strongest UV rays reach Earth’s surface.
  • Avoiding both direct sunlight, and sunlight reflected from water, sand and snow. It also can damage the skin.
  • Shielding the skin with tightly knit clothing. Long-sleeved garments made from light fabric can protect the skin in summer and yet be cool and comfortable. Hats with broad brims can shield the face.
  • Using sunscreen. Pick a sunscreen that provides “broad spectrum” protection against both kinds of UV radiation in sunlight, UVA and UVB.

People with close relatives who developed malignant melanoma may have inherited a damaged gene that increases their risk. For them, preventive measures and regular skin exams can be especially important.

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Jill Stewart Waibel Md

A tan will fade in a few weeks, but the effects of photoaging of the skin are everlasting.

Dermatologists are seeing an alarming increase in new cases of skin cancer among younger people who frequently use tanning beds.

Using tanning beds before age 35 can increase your chances of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer by 59%, and the risk increases with each use, Sherber says. Even one session in a tanning bed can increase the risk of developing melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67%, and basal cell carcinoma by 29%.

Furthermore, a tan might look nice now, but you have to consider the long-term consequence of premature skin aging. The end does not justify the means,” Waibel says. “A tan will fade in a few weeks, but the effects of photoaging of the skin are everlasting.”

Waibel adds that changes to the skin caused by long-term use of tanning beds can be quite dramatic. “It can cause molecular alterations believed essential in the development of skin cancer, similar to outdoor sun exposure, she says.

What Is The Difference Between Melanoma And Other Skin Cancers Like Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinoma

How to Prevent Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma , squamous cell carcinoma , and melanoma each arise from different cell types in the top layer of the skin. BCC and SCC are far more common than melanoma, and also less dangerous. Each year, over 2 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with BCC and SCC. When detected and treated early, nearly all BCCs and SCCs can be cured. In comparison, approximately 139,000 people will be newly diagnosed this year with melanoma the most deadly form of skin cancer. Unfortunately, melanoma has a greater tendency to aggressively spread beyond the skin, to lymph nodes and internal organs. Thankfully, however, the vast majority of melanomas are caught early and cured.

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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.

Avoid Using Tanning Beds And Sunlamps

Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless. This is not true. Tanning lamps give off UV rays, which can cause long-term skin damage and can contribute to skin cancer. Tanning bed use has been linked with an increased risk of melanoma, especially if it is started before a person is 30. Most dermatologists and health organizations recommend not using tanning beds and sun lamps.

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Cancer Prevention Clinical Trials Are Used To Study Ways To Prevent Cancer

Cancer preventionclinical trials are used to study ways to lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Some cancer prevention trials are conducted with healthy people who have not had cancer but who have an increased risk for cancer. Other prevention trials are conducted with people who have had cancer and are trying to prevent another cancer of the same type or to lower their chance of developing a new type of cancer. Other trials are done with healthy volunteers who are not known to have any risk factors for cancer.

The purpose of some cancer prevention clinical trials is to find out whether actions people take can prevent cancer. These may include eating fruits and vegetables, exercising, quitting smoking, or taking certain medicines, vitamins, minerals, or food supplements.

Avoid Weakening Your Immune System

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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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Dont Put Off Appointments

The sooner you see a dermatologist, the sooner you can tackle whatever issues come up together, says Dr. Chon. Thats especially important when it comes to skin cancer. When its little and its just starting, its super easy to take care of, she points out. If its early, its much, much better.

She says some patients worry that theyre overreacting and wasting her time if a spot turns out to be benign, but thats not true. Thats my job, and thats why Im here, she says. Theres no harm in getting it checked. Plus, unlike some other health screenings, skin checks are pretty straightforward and require no extra prep ahead of time.

Sun Exposure: The Electromagnetic Spectrum

Most often, ultraviolet light is at the center of conversations around skin cancer, because its is the number one cause of skin cancer.

Electromagnetic radiation comes in wavelengths of light. Only some are visible to the human eye, and wavelengths along the electromagnetic spectrum affect the skin in different ways.

UVB Shortwave ultraviolet B rays cause sunburns and damage the DNA in skin cells, which can ultimately lead to skin cancer. UVB rays are a tiny portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, but they are traditionally where most sunscreen companies focus their attention.

UVA Long-wave ultraviolet A rays result in tanning and premature signs of aging. UVA rays are prevalent in all kinds of weather and can even penetrate glass. When researchers realized UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer, they developed broad-spectrum sunscreens to protect against it, too, with the added benefit of preventing wrinkles and dark spots.

Protecting against both UVA and UVB rays is an important part of skin cancer prevention. , an assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health in New York City and a dermatologic surgeon, says broad-spectrum is a key phrase to look for when purchasing sunscreen because it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

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.

Ask Your Doc About Sun

Expert offers tips on how to prevent skin cancer

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.

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Find A Dermatologist You Like

Just like with any other health issue, if you get along with and trust your doctor, youll be more likely to stick to a preventive-care routine. Theres a tool on the AAD website thats great because you can actually search for dermatologists based on your zip code or the type of skin issue youre having, says Dr. Chon. Plus, she says, you can rest easy knowing everyone in the database is a board-certified dermatologist.

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:

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Avoiding Risk Factors And Increasing Protective Factors May Help Prevent Cancer

Avoiding cancerrisk factors may help prevent certain cancers. Risk factors include smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise. Increasing protective factors such as quitting smoking and exercising may also help prevent some cancers. Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about how you might lower your risk of cancer.

Sun Protection For Babies And Kids

Helpful Tips To Prevent Skin Cancer ð

The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Pediatrics do not recommend sunscreen use for infants under the age of 6 months.

Caregivers should minimize sun exposure. When outside, babies and toddlers need to be kept as shaded as possible with hats, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants.

Young children cannot verbalize that they are getting too hot and may not show signs of being overheated. To make sure everyone stays say, keep your time in the sun short and offer children water frequently.

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Tanning Beds Are Not A Safer Way To Get Uv Exposure

Experts agree that tanning beds are as dangerous for your skin as time spent in the sun. There is no safety in tanning beds,” Waibel says. “Many small doses of UV light exposure such as those that an indoor tanner might receive are more carcinogenic than the sunburn a vacationer might experience.”

Waibel adds that “there is very little regulation of indoor tanning salons, so there is great variability in operator safety.


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