May 1, 2013, Rolling Meadows, Ill.
– May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity to increase public
understanding of the prevalence, prevention and treatment of the most common
type of cancer diagnosis.
More than 1 million Americans are diagnosed
with skin cancer each year – more than cancers of the prostate, breast, lung,
colon, uterus, ovaries and pancreas combined.
As warm and comforting
as the sun feels on the skin in the moment, it’s just as dangerous in the long
term. The rise in the prevalence of skin cancer mostly is due to overexposure by
teenagers, leading to problems later in life. As such, this “lifestyle disease”
is very much preventable.
The American Society for Dermatologic
Surgery (ASDS) partnered with Neutrogena four years ago to create Choose Skin
Health, resulting in more than 6,500 free skin cancer screenings. One in 10
people undergoing the screenings were diagnosed with skin cancer.
The goal of Choose Skin Health is to encourage the practice of sun-safe
behaviors, including skin cancer prevention through screenings, the regular use
of sunscreen and monthly self-exams.
An ASDS online search feature makes
it easy to find a dermatologist offering free skin cancer screenings in your
“Ninety percent of skin cancers are related to ultraviolet ray
damage, and most of that damage occurs to young people,” said ASDS President
Timothy C. Flynn, M.D. “If you choose to have fun in the sun, you need to take
the necessary precautions. Skin cancer is too great a threat to be taken
You can’t always avoid the sun, but you can avoid skin
cancer with these five important tips:
• Avoid outdoor excursions
when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest between 10 a.m. and
4 p.m. Indirect sunlight also can be dangerous as UV rays that reflect off
water, sand, concrete and even areas painted bright white can cause sun
• Apply at least 30 SPF
sunscreen and a broad-spectrum lip balm a half hour before exposure to the sun
and reapply regularly when outside as the risk of developing skin cancer doubles
if you’ve had five or more sunburns in your lifetime.
• Wear appropriate clothing. A white T-shirt only provides the protection of
an SPF 4 sunscreen, so darker colors or tightly woven fabrics – such as silk and
polyester – are safer options. A wide-brim hat can reduce exposure of the scalp,
forehead, neck, ears and eyes by 70 percent.
• Stay out of tanning beds as people
who use them at least once a month increase their risk of skin cancer by 55
percent, according to studies, and the numbers are even more ominous for people
who begin such tanning regimens in their 20s or teens.
• Examine your skin regularly, especially looking any new black-colored moles
or changes in the size, shape, outline, color or feel of existing moles.
Immediately contact your dermatologist if you see anything suspicious.
“It’s human nature for people to want to enjoy the sun,” Flynn said. “Just as
with everything else, though, moderation, taking the proper precautions and
regular screenings are the keys to lessening the prevalence of skin cancer.”
About the ASDS
The American Society for
Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) is the largest specialty organization exclusively
representing dermatologic surgeons who have unique training and experience to
treat the health, function and beauty of the skin. ASDS members are pioneers in
the field. Many are involved in the clinical studies that bring popular
treatments to revitalize skin and fill and diminish wrinkles to the forefront.
Their work has helped create and enhance many of the devices that remove
blemishes, hair and fat, and tighten skin. Dermatologic surgeons also are
experts in skin cancer prevention, detection and treatment. As the incidence of
skin cancer rises, dermatologic surgeons are committed to taking steps to
minimize the life-threatening effects of this disease. For more information,
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery