As we start heading indoors after a summer of fun in the sun, it is important to be aware of one of the most serious drawbacks of enjoying that sun a little too much, specifically in regards to your skin health. Did you know that skin cancer is by far the most common of all cancers?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer directly caused by too much UV exposure. The sun exposure pattern believed to result in melanoma is that of brief, intense exposure. In other words, a blistering sunburn puts you more at risk for melanoma, rather than years of tanning. Although melanoma represents less than 5% of skin cancer cases, it accounts for a large majority of skin cancer deaths. So the next time you think that extra application of sunscreen is okay to skip, you might want to reconsider the ramifications.
Just because you get a sunburn does not mean you will get melanoma. There are many other risk factors involved. For instance, your family history and your skin type play a role in your melanoma susceptibility. It is more prevalent in light skinned and light haired people that suffer sun burns more easily. Studies show that melanoma is actually 20 times more common in Caucasians than in African Americans.
Furthermore, if you think your young age is keeping you safe from skin cancer, think again. Although melanoma cases are seen more frequently in older adults, it is one of the most common cancers in people younger than 30 years old (especially younger women).
Rest assured that there are things you can do, even if you are at risk. These three steps can be essential to preventing tragic results of melanoma:
- Make routine visits for skin cancer screenings a part of your healthcare plan
- Give yourself appropriate self exams to diagnose any new or changing skin lesions
- Always use protect yourself from the sun, with sun-protective clothing or sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB exposure
Olansky Dermatology Associates is proud to offer comprehensive skin cancer screenings to patients at any age. Enjoy your last days of summer fun, but be aware of the consequences of too much sun exposure.