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There are five keys of skin cancer symptoms (called the ABCDE’s) that can help you recognize skin cancer early. Dermatologists recommend that you perform regular head-to-toe checks keeping in mind these five ABCDE’s of skin tumors:
Not all cancers fit the ABCDE’s profiling. With any skin condition it is important to take note of any new skin spots or growths and consult with your doctor for any moles, freckles, or spots that seem different from the others.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Follow these recommendations to help protect yourself:
(Sources: The Skin Cancer Foundation)
UV radiation damages the skin and produces genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. As cited by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization, UV radiation is a proven human carcinogen. UV radiation is the main cause of non melanoma skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. About 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. These cancers strike more than a million people each year. UV radiation also plays a key role in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which kills more than 8,000 Americans each year.
UV radiation has wavelengths shorter than visible light which makes it invisible to the naked eye. UV wavelengths are classified as UVA, UVB, or UVC. UVA is the longest wavelength of the three at 320-400 nanometers, UVB ranges from 290-320 nanometers, and UVC has a shorter wavelength and is absorbed by the ozone layer. UVA and UVB reach the earth and have harmful effects such as premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts), skin cancers, and suppression of the immune system which reduces your body's ability to fight off these and other maladies.
Your skin type is one of the main factors in your risk for skin cancer. There are six skin types that range from light to dark. Individuals with light skin types face the highest risk of developing skin cancer. That is because those with less pigmentation have less natural protection from the sun. Light-skinned people should be highly cautious of the sun and have regular examinations by a doctor. While darker skin types are at the lowest risk, they can still get skin cancer and should be cautious of over exposure to the sun as well.
Golfers beware. You are at high risk of skin cancer. When you play a round of golf, your skin can be exposed to the sun for five hours or more. As sunscreen is good for a maximum of two hours, golfers must take additional skin care measures. Golfers should wear a wide-brim hat with three inches of brim or more all the way around shading your face, neck, ears, and shoulder tops. Golfers should cover your arms by wearing Arm Sleeves with UPF 50+ sun protection. And golfers should use UV protective sunglasses to protect your eyes, eyelids, and surrounding soft-skin areas. Golfers should never allow any area of your body's skin to become sun burned.
Construction workers who work in the sun are at a high risk for skin cancer. The Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA) has worked to educate labor union members on the dangers of skin cancers citing that outdoor construction workers are twice as likely to experience skin cancer as indoor workers. Outdoor construction workers and outdoor laborers must protect their arms and necks to prevent skin damage from over exposure to the sun.
Men take poorer care of their skin than women do especially when it comes to skin cancer prevention and early detection. Men have more unprotected sun exposure than women between work and play and men rarely examine or treat their skin. Consequently, men develop more skin cancers. The majority of people who get skin cancer are men over the age of 50 and they discover such growths too late when they are harder to treat. Men that spend time in the sun should regularly see a dermatologist and keep up with men's health issues related to sun exposure.
Clothing is the first line of defense against the sun as it absorbs and blocks much of its radiation. As part of a complete sun protection regimen, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends covering up with clothing, including pants, shirts, sleeves, broad-brimmed hats, neck and head wear, and UV-blocking sunglasses. The more skin you cover, the better.
You can have clothing over every square inch of your body, but if the sun goes right through it, it’s not much use. The tighter the knit or weave, the smaller the holes and the less the sun can get through. Twill, used to make tweeds or denim, is an example of a tightly woven fabric that offers good skin protection. Open weave fabrics, on the other hand, provide much less protection. Though loosely evaluating fabric content, color, weight and weave by eye are helpful at sizing up UV protection, it is difficult to pinpoint just how protective a piece of clothing is simply by looking at it. One solution is to choose garments with UPF labels. UPF stands for ultraviolet protection factor, which quantifies how effectively a piece of clothing shields against the sun. Look for clothing with a UPF of at least 30 so that you know you’re getting effective sun protection.
Clothing is the most effective form of sun protection. You probably already have clothes that offer excellent UV protection. When choosing the ideal attire for sun safety, consider the following factors - tightness of weave, type of fiber, thickness of fabric, color, and UPF labeling. While clothes made of UV-screening fabrics go a long way towards protecting your skin, the face and neck receive the most sun exposure and are particularly susceptible to skin cancer. Be sure to cover up with brimmed hats and neck and headwear.
A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that skin cancers occur more often on the left or drivers' side of the body. Drivers' heads and necks receive the most exposure. If you have a sunroof or a convertible top, you should wear a wide-brimmed hat. The second most common area for skin cancers was the arm. If you prop your elbow up on the open window while you drive, make sure it is covered by wearing a long sleeved shirt or an arm sleeve. Consider keeping sun safe items in your car such as a wide-brimmed hat, arm sleeves, and UV-blocking sunglasses for both you and your front seat passenger. Stay safe from the sun as you drive your car.
Millions of people receive a large portion of their sun exposure when they don’t even realize it, when they are driving their cars. Though the front windshield of your car is treated to block the rays of the sun, your side windows and rear window are not. Though your car's air condition may cool you and keep you comfortable, you are still exposed to the sun. When driving for extended periods of time, cover up and stay safe.
Protecting yourself from the sun is not only the healthy thing to do, it can also be the fashionable and trendy thing to do. Increasingly, people are covering up and enjoying the functional and fashionable options that they now have. Being sun safe doesn't have to be boring or bothersome. Fashionable hats, arm sleeves, neck and headwear enable you to continue to wear your existing clothing while adding new levels of sun safety, function and fashion to your wardrobe.
Learn more about skin cancer and protecting your skin from the Skin Cancer Foundation, an international organization devoted to education, prevention, early detection, and prompt treatment of skin cancer, the most common cancer in the world. We encourage you to visit some of the valuable articles that can be found on their website.