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Year-Round Sun Safety

 

Exposure to the sun doesn't mean you will get skin cancer.  But it is important to be smart and understand the basics of prevention, risk factors and early detection.  This page contains tips and facts for adults and children about sun safety that can keep one safe throughout the year.  

Skin Cancer Facts

  • Everyone is at risk for skin cancer, no matter their skin color.
  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer.
  • Melanoma is the number one cause of cancer deaths in women.
  • 75% of sun damage to your skin is due to exposure prior to age 20.
  • Snow, water, sand reflect sun and increase exposure.
  • If caught early, the common forms of skin cancer, basal and squamous cell carcinomas are easily treated.
  • Every hour someone dies of melanoma
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for those between ages 25-29, and the second most common form of cancer for young adults ages 15-29.
  • UV A and UV B rays contribute to skin cancer, aging and wrinkles. 

Risk Factors

  • Blonds, red-heads and fair-skinned people are most susceptible
  • People with blue or green eyes
  • Severe sunburn as child
  • Personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Personal or family history of multiple, large, or atypical moles
  • Large amount of sun exposure, work outdoors, and/or use tanning booths
  • Exposure to x-rays and certain chemicals (coal tar, arsenic) 

Early Detection

  • Monthly self exams
  • Annual, full-skin exam with your doctor
  • Notify your doctor about mole or skin changes including changes in color, moles larger than a pencil eraser, bleeding, crusting, scaliness, oozing, itchiness, tenderness 

Prevention

By this summer, the FDA ruling on sunscreen labeling will take effect.  Sunscreen labeled "Broad Spectrum" and have SPF values of 15 or higher help protect against both UVA rays that can cause skin cancer and early skin aging and UVB radiation which causes sunburn.  Until then, be sure to:

  • Use sunscreen with an SPF 30 or above and has UVA & UVB on the label
  • Apply 15-20 minutes before sun exposure
  • Apply thick layer every morning to face and back of hands regardless of weather
  • Reapply every 2-3 hours and if sweating or swimming
  • Wear sun protective clothing
  • Lip protection
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Limit time in the sun especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Avoid sunbathing
  • Seek shade and sunglasses with a UV block
  • As an alternative, use self-tanning sprays/creams
  • Be aware of medications that make you more sensitive to the sun

 

 

Treatment of Skin Cancer

Mohs micrographic surgical procedure is available at Beverly Hospital.  Read more about this innovative surgery used to treat certain types of skin cancer.

The  ABCDs of Melanoma 

asymmetryAsymmetrical -- one half of the mole looks different than the other half 

border-irregularBorder is irregular. 

colorColor -- mole is more than one color. 

diameterDiameter is greater than the size of a pencil eraser.