Skin cancer is on the rise and approximately 20% of North Americans will experience some form of it in their lifetimes.
What are the reasons behind these findings? Ozone depletion and people refusing to use sunscreen are factors. But, more people are now submitting to screening, so more cases are being detected than ever before.
More than one member of my family have dealt with mild cases, so my doctor is trying hard to keep me vigilant when it comes to my skin.
A self-examination is easy to do, and an important key in early detection. Start with the areas that are always exposed, such as the head and neck. Bald men should also look carefully at their scalps. Everyone is at risk, no matter what your skin color is, but fair-haired people with light-colored eyes are a higher risk group.
The most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. When treated early, they seldom create further problems. Melanoma is the more serious form of the disease. Often found on skin newly exposed with the arrival of warmer weather, such as backs and legs as people shed heavier clothing for shorts and sundresses.
Tanning beds continue to be a huge factor in contracting melanoma. Regular users of this practice are 75% more likely to contract this, the most dangerous form of the disease. In the United States alone, over a million people regularly use tanning beds and the number is on the rise. Prompting congress to add a 10% percent tax, that will yield billions in tax dollars, and hopefully make people think twice about using them.
If you find any kind of abnormality on your skin that doesn't go away within 30 days, have a doctor take a look at it.
Check your skin regularly. Look for moles with irregular shapes. Do they have indentations or "cauliflower" like borders? Has a mole changed color, or is it uneven in its color? Look for any new changes, such as a mole that has grown in size.
Remember to put on sunscreen, at least half an hour before going outside. The Cancer Society suggests an SPF of 30 or greater. The sun's UVA rays cause wrinkling and UVB rays cause burning, both cause cancer. Look for a sunscreen that will protect you from both, and apply about as much as it would take to fill up an egg cup on yourself, and more on a child. Once applied remember to reapply it every two hours while enjoying the outdoor weather.
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