According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the number of people in the United States diagnosed with melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubled between the years of 1982 and 2011. That means that, while general skin cancer awareness has increased due to technology giving virtually everyone the ability to research tips for preventing skin cancer, not enough people are taking the steps they need to protect their skin from the sun's harsh UV rays.
The AAD also projects that one in five Americans living now will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. To help increase the chances that you are one of the four in five who don't develop skin cancer, read on to learn important steps to help prevent it and a new skin cancer surgery option now available to skin cancer sufferers.
2 Steps to Preventing Skin Cancer
1. Wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days. If you tend to purchase a bottle of sunscreen each summer and only wear it when at the beach, then realize that you can do much more to protect your skin from the sun. Dermatologists advise that everyone in the United States wear broad-spectrum sunscreen on areas of their bodies exposed to the sun each and every day of the year.
While you may not develop sunburn on cloudy winter days, the sun's UVA rays can penetrate through clouds and into the deeper layers of your skin. This leads to cumulative sun damage that increases your chance of developing skin cancer in your lifetime.
2. Eat an antioxidant-rich diet. While not a substitute for wearing sunscreen daily, eating a diet filled with fruits and vegetables that contain plenty of antioxidants has been shown to help prevent almost all types of cancer. In addition to fruits and vegetables, cinnamon and green tea are also great sources of free-radical-fighting antioxidants.
Non-melanoma Skin Cancer Surgery Options
While melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, non-melanoma skin cancers are more common. The two main types of non-melanoma skin cancers are squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma is located in the top layer of skin, while basal cell carcinoma affects the basal layer of skin, which lies just underneath the squamous layer.
Thankfully, most squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas are very treatable when caught in their early stages. The following skin cancer surgeries can be used to remove both types of skin cancer when they are caught early:
- Simple excision. If caught early enough, your dermatologist may be able to simply excise, which means surgically cut, away the cancerous skin tissue. Once cancerous tissue is removed, you will have to keep a close eye on your skin and visit your dermatologist frequently to be check for signs that it has returned. While often successful, excision can leave scarring, so it is often not the best option when cancer is located on your face.
- Mohs surgery. Many dermatologists now consider Mohs surgery the best option for both squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas because it allows them to remove as little tissue as possible while still ensuring they remove all cancerous cells. During Mohs surgery, a single layer of skin is removed and then biopsied for cancer presence. Another layer of tissue is then removed and biopsied. This process is continued until the last layer of tissue removed contains no cancerous cells and the dermatologist is sure that all cancer has been removed.
Any skin cancer surgery is most successful when utilized at the first signs of skin cancer; this makes it important to watch for any changes in the appearance of moles on your body and the development of any unusual patches of skin. In addition, you should visit your dermatologist every year so they can inspect your body for signs of skin cancer so it can be treated quickly
Follow these tips to protect yourself from skin cancer, and, if you suspect you may have it now, visit a dermatologist at a medical office like Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center for an official diagnosis and to find out what skin cancer surgery is best for you.