The Best Preventive Measures for Skin Cancer

With skin cancer's rank as the number one type of cancer in the United States, is it any wonder everyone wants to know how to prevent it? The good news is there are things you can do to decrease your risk of getting skin cancer.

Here at the office of Trevan Fischer, MD, in Santa Monica, California, Dr. Fischer and our highly trained staff provide specialized surgical care for breast cancer, skin cancer, and soft tissue sarcomas. Dr. Fischer also keeps up on the latest innovations through his work with clinical trials at the John Wayne Cancer Institute and as an assistant program director of their Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship program.

Skin cancer is divided into three main types — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma — and strikes approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. each day. Given this statistic, it’s more important than ever to take all steps possible to protect yourself. Here are our top preventive measures for skin cancer.

Watch out for the sun

UV radiation from the sun, even on cloudy days, increases the risk of skin cancer. Avoid it when possible, especially during the hours of 10am and 4pm when it’s strongest.

When you must be outside, be sure to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 SPF. It won’t block all harmful UV radiation, but it can help. Apply it generously and thoroughly, including on the backs of your hands, tips of your ears, and other places exposed to the sun. Repeat application every two hours or more if swimming or sweating. 

Sun-protective clothing can help. Choose items that are dark and tightly woven and cover your arms and legs, or purchase specially designed photoprotective items. Don't forget a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.

Skip the tanning bed

Tanning causes genetic damage to the outermost layer of skin cells. People who have participated in just one indoor tanning session before the age of 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.

Know medication side effects

Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications, including antibiotics and antidepressants, can make your skin extra sensitive to sunlight. If you’re taking one of these, be even more diligent about staying out of the sun or protecting yourself.

Examine your skin

Always keep an eye on your skin for any changes in moles, birthmarks, freckles, or bumps. Be sure to regularly check all over your body and not just areas exposed to the sun. This includes the soles of your feet and spaces between your toes.

See a dermatologist

Have a dermatologist conduct a professional skin exam every year. Anything suspicious can be biopsied and then monitored or removed as needed. If it is skin cancer, catching it early may lead to less treatment and the best chance of a cure.

If you're concerned about a suspicious spot on your skin, call our office today at 310-504-2548 or click to book an appointment online.

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