May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Hamilton DermatologyNews

This May, we want to help you stay protected against sun exposure. Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in America today? The American Cancer Society estimates that one person from skin cancer each day. However, it’s also one of the more preventable types of cancers.

There are many ways you can help protect your skin from UV rays, including:

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with zinc and SPF 30 or higher to protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before exposure to the sun. Remember to reapply your sunscreen often.
  • Stay in the shade when the sun’s rays are the strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Cover up with protective clothing like long sleeves, a hat, and sunglasses. Many items of clothing now have added SPF protection.
  • Beware of reflective surfaces like sand, snow and water. Even on cloudy days, ultraviolet rays can bounce off these surfaces and damage your skin.
  • Avoid tanning, either in the sun or in a tanning bed.
  • Check your skin often for any irregularities. Visit your dermatologist or family doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Visit our website for more skin cancer prevention tips. The American Academy of Dermatology has information on their website about choosing the best sunscreen.

Learn the ABCDEs

Melanoma is just one form of skin cancer, but it’s the most serious form. It can spread to lymph nodes and other organs. It often develops as a mole or a new dark spot on the skin. It’s important to examine your body’s moles and spots monthly and visit your dermatologist if you notice any of the following:

A = Asymmetry: Your mole or spot is uneven, with one half looking different from the other half.
B = Border: Your spot’s border is not well-defined, or not smooth and even.
C = Color: The color of your spot isn’t the same all over; it has shades of different colors such as tan, brown, and black – even red, white, or blue.
D = Diameter: Melanoma lesions are often larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser).
E = Evolving: Your mole or spot looks different from others, or is changing, growing, itching, or bleeding.

These ABCDEs of Melanoma can help you and your dermatologist detect early warning signs, and take action right away.