Oh no! Another blog about skin cancer and sunscreen! Why bother reading this, you might be thinking. Well, it may surprise you to know that skin cancer is still a major problem in the United States. In fact, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that one American dies every hour from skin cancer. This year alone, ACS estimates there will be about 74,000 new cases of malignant melanoma (the most serious common form of skin cancer), and more than two million new cases of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers (BCC and SCC).
So, while melanoma accounts for less than 2% of skin cancer cases, it causes the majority of skin cancer-related deaths and is one of the most common cancers in young adults, especially young women. All this is despite years of education about the need for UV avoidance and skin cancer screening. Let’s face it, most people still think sporting a tan, especially during the summer and after a vacation, is a good idea. In fact, we are routinely being misled to believe that indoor tanning is a “healthy” behavior. For example, some local health and fitness clubs and gyms offer indoor tanning packages as part of their services.
Let’s not mince words here. Indoor tanning is incredibly dangerous and something we should NEVER* do. Never. A single session of indoor tanning raises your risk of developing melanoma by 20% — and your risk is almost double if you have your first session under the age of 35. Indoor tanning also increases your risk of other skin cancers as well.
It’s important to remember, though, that most cases of melanoma are caught early, and most are treated with relatively minor surgery. In fact, the good news is that death from melanoma is actually decreasing in young people, probably due to earlier diagnosis. This is why regular skin screenings are so important.
It’s also important to practice sun safety when you are outdoors. Friday, May 26, 2017 is “Don’t Fry Day.” This is a great day to remind yourself and your family and friends to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors. One easy way to remember what to do is to remember ACS’ catch phrase: Slip! Slop! Slap! … and Wrap!
1) Slip on a shirt (long sleeves and a dark color recommended)
2) Slop on sunscreen (SPF of 30 or more is recommended)
3) Slap on a hat (2-3” brim all around is recommended)
4) Wrap on sunglasses (99% UV absorption recommended)
More information can be found on the ACS website. For more information about Carolina Dermatology of Greenville, click here. To make an appointment with a dermatologist, call 1-844-Prisma Health-DOCS (447-3627).
* There are exceptional circumstances in which a physician might recommend indoor tanning as a substitution for a light-based treatment for certain skin conditions. This should be done on a case-by-case basis and under the guidance of a dermatologist or other qualified healthcare provider.