Skin Cancer and the Sun: Protecting Yourself in the Summer Heat
Fun in the sun! The old saying takes on a literal meaning during the summer when more and more people flock to local beaches. But does soaking in all that vitamin c, outweigh the risks?
Dr. Saresh Ratnam, an oncologist with Texas Oncology, says, "Exposure to the sun and to UV light raises the risk for skin cancer." A study shows, 40-50% of Americans will develop skin cancer.
5,000 people in Texas alone were diagnosed in 2012. Meanwhile, your chance of developing skin cancer increases 3 or 4 fold with over-exposure to sun.
In particular, recurring sun-burn.
"(Sunburn) is actual damage to the skin and the skin serves a very important purpose of preventing infection," said Dr. Ratnam. Dr. Ratnam stresses the key to prevention is simple.
"It is key to apply liberal amounts of sun block and they're usually rated with SPF numbers...Higher than 30 would be safe to go with," Dr. Ratnam explains. If you don't take the safety measures and allow your skin to burn, the result of the irreparable damage, could lead to skin cancer...
Dr. Ratnam says, "the two most common are basil cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These are usually highly curable if detected early."
The first step to examining your body after prolonged periods in the sun is to look for new spots or marks that have changed.
"Follow the ABCD's. If you have a spot that looks asymmetric. A border that looks jagged. B is border if it's not smooth, or in line with the skin, looks raised," advises Dr. Ratnam. C, for color, and any changes in hue from brown to red. D, for diameter, or changes in size, especially over 6 mm in diameter. Follow the ABCD's and you'll be sure to keep yourself safe.