Top 5 Facts About Skin Cancer: Prevention and Detection

Top 5 Facts About Skin Cancer: Prevention and Detection | UPMC Italy

When it comes to skin cancers, prevention is key and starts with simple daily gestures. Goal, limit exposure to UV rays. Some examples? Limit sessions on the tanning bed, use SPF creams, have regular dermatological checkups, as early diagnosis allows you to start the most appropriate therapy as soon as possible.

1. Using a tanning bed increases your risk of skin cancer by 75%.

Skin cancer is mainly attributable to UV exposure. Excluding sunlight, the most common source of UV radiation is tanning beds.

Studies have shown that in women under 35 who use tanning beds regularly, the risk of getting melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, increases by up to 75%. This risk is higher in women who use tanning beds once a month.

2. Sunscreen with SPF 30 is fine — as long as you apply it correctly.

The "Sun Protection Factor" is a measure related to the duration of UV protection offered by sunscreens. A cream with SPF 30, therefore, already provides us with adequate UV protection for 30 minutes, as long as it is properly applied to the face and any part of the skin exposed to the sun. Apply the cream at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply it at intervals of a few hours if you sweat or are in contact with water. Otherwise, one application in the morning is sufficient.

3. Avoiding the sun at peak hours helps to reduce risk.

It is normal for you to want to spend time outdoors in the summer, but pay attention to the hours when the sun's rays are strongest, which is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you decide to be outdoors during this time, be sure to apply a sufficient amount of sunscreen and cover all exposed areas of skin. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also help reduce the risk of sunburn.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen every day if you are outdoors. Even on a cloudy day, in fact, it is possible to get sunburned.

4. Only some moles are cause for skin cancer concern.

Only a few moles need worry us, but it is advisable to have regular checkups, especially if you notice any new, or particularly conspicuous, moles. Consult your doctor or a dermatology specialist if a mole has the following characteristics:

Check your moles on a regular basis and follow the ABCDEF rule. Consult your doctor or a dermatologist if a mole has the following characteristics:

  • Asymmetrical (A).
  • Has irregular borders (B).
  • Is multiple colors or has changed colors over time (C).
  • Is larger in diameter than a pencil eraser (D).
  • Is evolving in shape or color (E), or looks funny in any way (F).
  • If you have a mole that’s ulcerating or bleeding, you should see a doctor immediately. 

5. Prevention is vital for everyone.

Having fair skin, red hair, or blue eyes definitely increases your risk of skin cancer, but beware: just because you have these features does not mean you should underestimate prevention. Even people with darker skin should be careful about exposure to sunlight.

Similarly, although skin cancer is diagnosed more frequently in women than in men, men should also do everything they can to prevent this disease and keep their skin checked for alarm bells. This is an especially important thing to remember because men may be less likely to consult a doctor or use sunscreen.

It only takes five sunburns over a lifetime to increase the risk of developing skin cancers. So apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30, avoid the sun during peak hours, and consult a doctor if you notice an unusual-looking mole. Early diagnosis is critical. The earlier the skin cancer is detected, the better the chance that it will be curable.

Learn more about Dermatology at UPMC Salvator Mundi International Hospital and schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.