Many people don’t think of their skin as being an organ, but in reality, it is the largest organ in your body. It is important to remember that your skin needs as much care – and is at as much risk for disease – as the rest of you.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most-diagnosed cancer in the United States. Your risk of skin cancer increases with age; however, melanomas can also occur in younger people.
Skin Cancer Risks
You may be at risk for developing skin cancer if you have:
- Had too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (from sunlight or tanning beds and lamps)
- Pale skin
- Had exposure to large amounts of coal tar, paraffin, arsenic compounds or certain types of oil
- A family history of skin cancer or you yourself have been diagnosed with skin cancer
- Multiple or unusual moles
- Had severe sunburns in the past
- A weakened immune system
What to Look For
Regular screenings and self-exams are a great way to monitor any changes in your skin. If you notice any of your existing or new spots or moles have any of the following characteristics, it is recommended to see a dermatologist right away. Follow the ABCs of skin cancer detection:
- Asymmetry; look for spots that are asymmetrical, not round
- Border; look for spots with uneven borders
- Color; look for spots with an unusual or uneven color
- Diameter; look for spots larger than 7 mm
- Evolving; has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?
Skin Cancer Prevention
Protecting your skin from the sun’s Ultraviolet (UV) rays is the best way to prevent skin cancer. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Always seek shade, and make sure to stay out of the sun during peak hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m.)
- Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps
- Wear sunscreen every day and make sure to apply it properly. A good rule of thumb is to use one ounce (approximately the amount that would fit in the palm of your hand) every two hours while in the sun.
- Wear clothing to cover your arms and legs, and sunglasses to prevent damage to your eyes
To learn more about skin cancer and Memorial Hermann’s skin cancer services, please click here.
Sources: American Cancer Society; Is That Tan Worth Your Life?