Washington: In observance of May`s Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) has provided tips for prevention and early detection.
When left untreated, melanoma is the most dangerous and aggressive form of skin cancer, accounting for more than 9,000 of the 12,000-plus skin cancer deaths each year.
"While SCCA doctors have developed successful and innovative methods to treat skin cancer, the true fight against melanoma starts with the simple routines each of us do daily to protect our skin," said Dr. Kim Margolin, medical oncologist at SCCA and professor of medical oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
It only takes a few simple changes to a person`s regular routine to reduce the chances of developing skin cancer. SCCA`s skin cancer experts suggest adopting the following practical, prevention and early detection focused tactics:
Limit sun exposure, they said. Skin damage occurs over time and studies have shown that children tend to get 80 percent of their lifetime exposure by age 18.
Limit the amount of time you and your children are in the sun, especially between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m, the experts advised.
They also suggest using sunscreen. The American Cancer Society recommends daily use of sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30.
Reapply sunscreen every few hours while exposed to the sun, regardless of the SPF and be wary of commonly overlooked areas such as the top of hands, ears and scalp, the experts noted.
Cases of ocular skin cancer have increased dramatically in recent decades.
So, the experts have advised to protect eyes by avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight and wearing sunglasses in bright conditions.
Fair skinned and blue-eyed people are especially susceptible to ocular skin cancers, they said.
People who use tanning beds at least once a month boost their risk of skin cancer by more than 50 percent, especially for younger users, they noted.
They suggest healthy alternatives such as spray tanning and tinted lotions.
Get annual screenings, they recommend. Annual check-ups and regular self-exams are the best tools for early detection.
Be sure to check your skin regularly, especially if you have a family history of skin cancer. Look for changes in moles and freckles, including asymmetry, uneven boarders, varied color, and growth, they said.
Further, they advised to learn family history of skin cancer.
Talk with your doctor about your family history of cancer and other diseases. If skin cancer or melanoma runs in your family you could be at greater risk, they stated.