May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a time to bring attention to the prevention and treatment of one of the most common forms of cancer. Skin cancer is diagnosed in 9,500 people every day in the United States.
Thanks to the promising treatments for early detection, skin cancer is responsible for less than 1% of cancer-related deaths. At The Oncology Institute, we understand that educating yourself about signs and prevention is just one step in protecting yourself and your loved ones against this deadly disease.
What is skin cancer?
There are four different types of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and merkel cell cancer. While melanoma is most commonly known as the deadliest skin cancer, nonmelanoma cancers impact over 5 million people in the United States every year.
Skin cancer is most often found on the areas where the sun touches your skin, but in some cases, it can form on areas that rarely see the sunlight. If caught early enough, skin cancer can be treated by topical medications, in-office procedures performed by a dermatologist, or an outpatient surgery. As a proactive measure, it is recommended to schedule a routine examine with a dermatologist once a year.
Protecting yourself from harmful UV radiation is the best way to ensure you are preventing skin cancer. However, avoiding UV radiation caused by the sun takes intention as sunlight can reach your skin even if you’re trying to avoid it! In order to properly protect yourself from harmful UV radiation, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends these 5 tips when spending time outdoors:
- Seek out shade during the hottest parts of the day.
- Prevent getting sunburned by using broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) or protective clothing that includes a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Avoid tanning, and never use UV tanning beds.
- Use sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep babies under the age of six months out of the sun and use sunscreen when spending time outdoors with your little ones.
Signs of skin cancer
The most common sign of skin cancer is a change in your skin. It’s recommended to check your skin regularly and remember that melanomas can occasionally occur in places other than your skin, like under a fingernail or inside the mouth. Should you notice new or changing spots on your skin, it’s recommended to see your primary care physician to address your concerns.
While skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, there is a 99% survival rate over a 5-year span for melanoma. If you are newly diagnosed, The Oncology Institute’s dedicated physicians and Clinical Research Team offer state-of-the-art treatment as well as the option to participate in cutting-edge clinical trials.
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