May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month
Summer is quickly approaching and we’re ready to spend more time outdoors gardening, biking, boating, swimming, and relaxing on the beach. All of this is amazing, but it also means prolonged and often unprotected sun exposure for long periods of time.
This month we highlight Skin Cancer Awareness as well as Melanoma Awareness and encourage all of our patients to participate in the Skin Cancer Foundation’s #SkinCheckChallenge. Our goal is to get 500 patients screened for skin cancer during the month of May!
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States; approximately 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, if caught early, it’s also one of the most treatable, which is why Paradise Dermatology is so adamant about annual skin checks!
Get Skin Check Ready!
Once you’ve made your appointment, follow these five simple steps to prepare for and make the most of your time with your dermatological specialist:
- Know your skin: we encourage our patients to perform self-exams each month noting any new, unusual, or changing spots.
- Fresh face forward: skip or remove any make-up before your exam.
- Remove all nail polish: this allows us to examine your finger and toe nails.
- Messy hair, don’t care: wear your hair loose so that we can get a good look at your scalp.
- Ask us questions: we’re here to help you prevent skin cancer and look your best!
So, what can you expect at a skin check appointment?
- If you’ve never had atypical moles or skin cancer, the exam will likely take around 10 to 15 minutes.
- You’ll be asked to change into a medical exam gown. Your provider will thoroughly check your skin from the top of your head to your toes, paying close attention to hard-to-see spots like your scalp, back and buttocks, behind your ears, and even between your toes.
- If your provider finds any suspicious spots, they may biopsy them and send them to a lab for analysis. If the report comes back that the spot is skin cancer, you will be contacted, and treatment options will be discussed.
Remember, early detection is the key to the most minimal and cost-effective treatment with the highest chance of a cure!
Remember Your ABCDEs
Thankfully, skin cancer is visible! So, for the months between your annual visits to your dermatology specialist, you should be performing a self-check once a month. It should be done while you are unclothed, in front of a mirror, and under a bright light. Start with your scalp and face, then work your way down your entire body. Look for any new growths, dark or bleeding lesions, and changing moles.
- Asymmetry: one half does not match the other half.
- Border is irregular: the mole's edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
- Color is not uniform: mole may appear shades of black, brown, tan, red, gray, white, pink, or blue.
- Diameter is larger than 6 millimeters (mm) or 1/4 inch, about the size of a pencil eraser. Any sudden or continued increase in size is of special concern.
- Evolving: the mole or lesion looks different from the rest, or changes in size, shape, or color.
While skin cancer is the most common cancer, it’s also one of the most preventable. By taking simple steps to protect yourself, that includes getting your annual skin check, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing or suffering from skin cancer.
Save Your Skin!
To keep your chance of skin cancer as low as possible and maintain your skin’s health, avoid prolonged UV exposure and follow these top five tips:
- Wear sunscreen: Sunscreen is your best defense against skin cancer. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and apply generously to all exposed skin. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
- Seek shade: The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, stay in the shade during these hours.
- Cover up: Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats, to help shield your skin from the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds: Tanning beds emit harmful UV radiation, which can cause skin cancer.
- Check your skin: Regularly examine your skin for any changes, such as moles that are growing or changing in shape or color. If you notice any changes, see a dermatologist right away.
While sun damage itself cannot be undone, with the advanced cosmetic technologies at Paradise Dermatology and our quality skin care products available for purchase, the effects of sun damage on your skin can be minimized!
Remember, Skin Cancer Awareness Month is not just about educating yourself, but also about spreading awareness to others, #SharetheFacts. Share this blog with your friends and family, and encourage them to take steps to protect their skin too and take part in our #SkinCheckChallenge campaign. Together, we can all enjoy our slice of paradise safely, and make a difference in the fight against skin cancer.
Call today to book your skin cancer screening.