According to the American Academy of Dermatology estimates, there will be over 192,000 new cases of melanoma in the United States in 2019. In fact, invasive melanoma is projected to be the fifth most common cancer for both men and women. The truth is, the rate of skin cancers of all types is increasing at a steady pace. What’s more alarming is that most cases of skin cancer are preventable. So, why has there been such an increase in skin cancer? Dermatologist Dr. Koreen and the team at Dermatology & Cosmetic Laser Center in Huntington, NY are committed to helping patients prevent skin cancer. In the following article, we’ll take a look at some reasons why skin cancer is on the rise and what you can do to prevent it.
The number one cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet rays
Decades ago, skin cancer was much rarer in younger individuals 50 and under. Because it is typically caused by prolonged exposure to the sun, it was often diagnosed in older patients who had spent years (decades) out in the sun.
This isn’t the case anymore.
More and more, we’re seeing younger individuals, under the age 50 being diagnosed with skin cancer and a great deal of that can be attributed to tanning bed use. After the rise of in popularity of tanning beds in the late 1980s, we’ve seen an increase in the rates of skin cancer, mainly among young women.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, use of tanning beds before the age of 35 increases your risk of melanoma by 59%.
Other notable facts about the risks of indoor tanning:
- Over two-thirds of all tanning salon patrons are young, Caucasian women
- Over half of all indoor tanners started before the age of 21
- Research has shown that UV exposure from indoor tanning is related to an increased risk of skin cancers including melanoma, which is potentially deadly
- Melanoma is the second most common cancer among females age 12-29
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What you can do to prevent skin cancer?
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to minimize exposure to the sun. Since we understand that avoiding sun exposure altogether is an unreasonable expectation, there are things you can do to protect yourself when you are out in the sun.
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
It’s hard to get really excited about sunscreen, but the fact remains that I can reduce your risk of melanoma skin cancer by 40 percent. It’s actually recommended that you wear sunscreen daily, because simple acts like driving your car and walking from your car to the indoors can expose your skin to the sun. There are many different products and even makeups available that have sunscreen in them. By getting into the habit of wearing it daily, you can reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.
If you will be out in the sun for an extended period of time, make sure to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply at least every two hours.
Wear protective clothing
These days you will see more and more children and adults wearing rash guards at the beach or pool to protect their skin from the sun. If you work outside, make sure to wear a hat, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and sunglasses to cover your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Change your habits
Like to walk or run? Try doing so in the early morning or at dusk when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong. Try staying in the shade when the sun is at its strongest (usually from about 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.).
Get your skin checked
It’s important to maintain regular visits with the dermatologist to have your skin checked. This allows the doctor to monitor suspicious spots on the skin and catch any signs of cancer early when they are much easier to treat. Always make an appointment if you have a suspicious spot that has changed in color, shape, or size.
While the rates of skin cancer continue to rise, we’ve made it part of our mission to help our Huntington area patients minimize their risk of developing it. By making small changes such as wearing daily sunscreen, switching up your outdoor exercise time, and avoiding tanning beds, eventually we can begin to see a decrease in the number of individuals developing skin cancer. To learn more about skin cancer and how to prevent it, please call us a(631) 417-3300.