Skin cancer in the United States is on the rise. More people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer than with all other cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society, five million Americans receive a new skin cancer diagnosis each year. A few changes in lifestyle could prevent this illness. The Skin Cancer Foundation offers simple tips that can help prevent melanomas and other skin cancers.
- Know the difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Sunscreen uses chemicals that absorb ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and reduce the amount of UVR reaching your skin. Sunblock is thicker and may offer more protection against ultraviolet A rays. To find a more effective sunscreen, buy one labeled “broad spectrum,” with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater, which protects against both UVA and UVB radiation.
- If swimming or sweating, use a “water resistant” sunscreen that protects for 40 or 80 minutes, and reapply it at the recommended times.
- Avoid both outdoor tanning and tanning booths.
- Protect your arms, face, and legs while outdoors. A good rule of thumb is to apply half an ounce of sunscreen to your entire body half an hour before you go outside.
- Be sure your sunglasses offer UV blocking. Experts have linked UV-ray exposure to cataract formation.
- Check your skin annually for abnormalities. Look for bumps, patches, nonhealing sores, scaly patches, and asymmetrical or multicolored moles. Visiting a dermatologist yearly is the best way to discover and treat skin abnormalities.