Skin cancer is a frightening reality, especially when you consider some of the facts.  It is the most common cancer, affecting over 5 million people per year.  It can affect all ages and genders, and the most aggressive form, melanoma, is expected to claim 10,000 lives this year.  However, there is also good news.  Skin cancer, when detected and treated early has a cure rate greater than 95 percent. 

Skin Cancer Prevention

The first step to treating skin cancer is to prevent it.  Ninety percent of all skin cancers are due to sun exposure.  This includes excessive exposure to natural sunlight without appropriate protection, as well as use of indoor tanning facilities.  It is one of the most preventable cancers affecting our population today.  Young people in particular are greatly increasing their risk of developing skin cancer with each burn and every visit to a tanning booth.  With some simple steps taken early on, skin cancer can be far more likely to be held at bay. 

·        Use a daily SPF of 30 or above

·        Never use tanning facilities

·        Wear protective clothing, wide brimmed hats, and sunglasses

·        Seek shade from 10AM-4PM when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest

Early Detection of Skin Cancer

In the event that skin cancer does occur, early detection can be life-saving.  Familiarize yourself with all marks, lesions, and growths on your body, and check them once per month.  Look for changes in size, shape, or color, and any new growths that you haven’t previously noted.  These can be signs of skin cancer, including melanoma.  Examinations should be thorough, keeping in mind that cancerous lesions can occur anywhere and may hide in difficult-to-see places.  Be sure to check your scalp, in between fingers and toes, under your arms, and the soles of your feet.  Additionally, patients should visit a dermatologist for a baseline skin check.  Depending on your risk factors, he or she may want to conduct these checks on an annual or more frequent basis.

Learn More about Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is too preventable to continue to claim lives.  Be careful not to increase your risk through excessive UV exposure, and take the proper precautions to identify growths and lesions early.  This process could very well save your life.  If you do identify a troubling spot anywhere on your body, contact our Baton Rouge dermatology office or Lafayette dermatology office to schedule a consultation and treatment.