Prevention is the best treatment for skin cancer
As you laze in the sun on a summer afternoon, or rush around town tending to your long list of errands, a life-threating disease may be the farthest thing from your mind. However, you could be inviting just such a disease if you didn’t take time to apply sunscreen. Skin cancer is not a topic to take lightly. It needlessly claims thousands of lives every year, and it continues to become more prevalent. Considering these grim statistics, the startling fact is that most skin cancer is avoidable.
UV radiation, which may be associated with unprotected exposure to natural sunlight or the use of indoor tanning facilities, accounts for approximately 86 percent of all melanomas and 90 percent of all non-melanoma skin cancers in the United States. Yet people continue to risk their health with avoidable UV exposure every day. As a fellow of the Skin Cancer Foundation, and an advocate of public health, Dr. Downie is committed to educating people about the risks of UV radiation, and the best ways to avoid it.
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You don’t have to give up your active lifestyle or outdoor recreation to be sun-safe. How can you protect yourself?
- Remember the 30-30 rule: Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF rating of 30, and apply it 30 minutes before going outdoors.
- Apply sunscreen liberally. For an average adult, it takes at least two tablespoons to cover exposed skin adequately.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours. If you have been swimming or sweating excessively, reapply immediately. Water resistant does not mean waterproof.
- Whenever possible, seek shade especially during the peak hours (10AM through 4PM).
- Wear long pants, broad-brimmed hats, long sleeved shirts, and other protective clothing.
- Never use tanning lamps. If you want a “golden glow” consider spray tanning instead.
- Check your own skin regularly, and see a doctor if you notice unusual spots, growths, or skin changes.
- See a dermatologist for screening at least once a year (twice a year if you have a history of skin cancer).
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