Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than two million people are diagnosed and over 10,000 people die annually.
The best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer is to protect your skin from unnecessary and prolonged sun exposure. Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays in as little as 15 minutes.
Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. Clouds do not block UV rays; they filter them – and sometimes only slightly. As such, it is recommended that you wear sunscreen everyday and especially on days when you know you will be outside for long periods of time.
There’s no other way to say it—tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after time outside – whether sunburn or suntan – indicates damage from UV rays. Using a tanning bed causes damage to your skin too, just like the sun.
Once your skin is damaged by the sun or a tanning bed, your risk of developing skin cancer is increased. And, while you should be aware of any changes to your skin and share that information with your healthcare provider, the best way to detect skin cancer is to have routine professional skin cancer screenings.
A skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of your skin by a medical professional. No blood work is conducted at a screening. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends having a full-body screening yearly by a healthcare provider – it takes approximately 10 minutes, including completing the paperwork and getting your skin checked.
Skin cancers that are diagnosed late can cause disfigurement and death. Early detection of skin cancer helps greatly reduce damage to your body and saves lives.