More people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. If that statistic doesn’t grab your attention, then maybe this one will: one in five people will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
Thankfully, most skin cancer is highly treatable, and curable if caught early enough. But wouldn’t you rather not be diagnosed in the first place?
Since May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month, we here at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates thought it would be a good idea to go over a few helpful ways our patients in Lawrence, Topeka, and Ottawa can prevent skin cancer. While our focus is typically ear, nose, and throat, your skin covers it all and we want to make sure it’s as healthy as possible.
About 90% of skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, so any skin cancer prevention program should focus on protecting yourself from those UV rays.
One of the best ways to do that is to walk into your nearest grocery store or pharmacy and grab a few bottles of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Buy big bottles and small tubes so you always have some on hand — in your purse, in your car, in your backpack.
The more places you’ve stashed a bottle of sunscreen, the less effective your excuses become for heading out into the sun without it. Plus, many sunscreens come in a spray bottle, making application a snap.
While sunscreen does a great job protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, nothing beats covering up completely.
Today’s clothing materials are better than ever at wicking away moisture, so wearing a breathable long-sleeved shirt for a run is now more comfortable than ever. The same goes for long pants. If you still want to wear something sleeveless, keep a scarf or light shirt on hand to cover up if you’re out in the sun longer than you’d planned.
Perhaps the most important item is a hat, and the broader the rim, the better. If you don’t cover anything else up, we implore you to consider a hat to protect the delicate skin on your face from premature aging and skin-related cancers.
Just as you go to an eye doctor or dentist regularly, you should also see a dermatologist for a skin check every few years, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun. A dermatologist is trained to spot skin cancer early, which allows them to take swift action to get rid of any lesions before they become a bigger problem.
If you notice a strange discoloration or a new mole on your skin, don’t wait to have it looked at. We’re happy to take a look and advise you further, or you can make an appointment with a dermatologist.
Sorry, but we just can’t emphasize this enough. So we’re saying it again: there is no better way to protect yourself against skin cancer than to protect yourself against harmful sun exposure. Please use sunscreen whenever you’re out and cover up your skin as best you can. And don’t forget to put a lid on it!
If you have any more questions about preventing skin cancer, please give us a call and schedule an appointment today.