May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and it comes at a good time as temperatures rise and people spend more time outside.
As you head out of doors with your friends and family, make sure you’re aware of a particularly dangerous type of skin cancer, melanoma. While it isn’t as prevalent as many other skin cancers, it is behind a large number of skin cancer deaths.
Unfortunately, it cannot truly be prevented since you have no control over factors such as family history and race. That said, there are few steps you can take to drastically reduce the chances of you and your children getting melanoma.
Limit Your Exposure to UV Rays
You can limit the harmful effects of UV rays by:
- Always using sunblock
- Staying in the shade as much as possible
- Wearing shirts and hats in the sun
- Avoiding tanning beds and sunlamps
The dangers of tanning beds in particular may surprise you. Tanning beds do produce UV rays and increase the risk of melanoma. We especially caution patients younger than 30 who are already using tanning beds.
Perform Monthly Self-Examinations
Virtually any skin cancer is treatable if you catch it early, and that detection begins with monthly examinations of your skin.
Many forms of melanoma do not develop from moles, so an absence of moles does not necessarily signal that you are melanoma-free. The point is the get to know your skin and your moles so that you can identify any changes.
Get an Annual Skin Check-up from a Board-Certified Dermatologist
While skin self-examinations are a critical part in early detection, preventing the serious effects of melanoma also means seeing a board-certified dermatologist.
You’ll undergo a full-body skin examination. Depending on your risk factors, the dermatologist may recommend you be professionally checked again anywhere from just three months to a year later.
Examinations last from five to 15 minutes, and if any abnormalities are found, it is possible in many cases to have a biopsy or excision performed that day.
Schedule an Appointment to Catch Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers
Skin cancer is almost always curable if caught early. That’s a good thing, as it is the most prevalent cancer in the United States, with about 5.4 million cases annually.
If you’re worried you are at risk for melanoma or would like a skin examination, schedule an appointment today.