While common and sometimes deadly when untreated, skin cancer is largely preventable. Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen outdoors provides significant protection from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays; yet an American Cancer Society survey found that 31% of people never wear sunscreen.
Unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation, either from the sun or tanning beds, can significantly increase melanoma risk. People with pale skin, multiple moles or a family history of skin cancer are also at increased risk.
Early detection and treatment can usually halt skin cancer. Watch for skin changes, particularly the development of new growths or changes in the size or color of a mole, growth or spot. Warning signs include:
- Scaling, bleeding or oozing.
- The spread of color beyond the borders of a mole or spot.
- Changes in sensation such as tenderness, pain or itching.
You can prevent skin cancer by following these recommendations from Issels’ alternative cancer treatment teams:
- Stay in the shade and avoid direct sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are most intense.
- Wear wide-brimmed hats and cover skin with protective clothing when outdoors.
- Protect your eyes with sunglasses that provide UVA/UVB protection.
- Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen and lip balm that provide both UVA and UVB protection. Choose products with SPF 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen generously (about an ounce per application) 30 minutes before going outdoors to give it time to soak into your skin. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, toweling off or sweating. Be aware that water-resistant sunscreen only provides about 40 minutes of protection and should be reapplied frequently.