Skin Cancer: Prevalent but Treatable

Skin Cancer Awareness Month | Image by Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock
Skin Cancer Awareness Month | Image by Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

May is skin cancer awareness month, the annual month-long campaign that aims to raise awareness about one of the most common and preventable forms of the disease.

To avoid potential risks, doctors recommend performing a head-to-toe check, including between your toes, each month, looking for abnormalities on your skin, like spots, odd-shaped moles, expanding growths, or new bumps. To help, the American Academy of Dermatology has created the following ABCDE rule to help identify melanoma warning signs:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the spot is dissimilar from the other half.
  • Border: The spot shows an irregular, scalloped, or unclear border.
  • Color: The spot possesses various colors from one section to another.
  • Diameter: Diagnosed melanomas can be very small, less than a fraction of an inch.
  • Evolving: The spot may appear different from others, and is changing in shape, size, or color.

A big part of reducing the risk of skin cancer is to prevent yourself from burning. As detailed last year in The Dallas Express, it is critical to apply sunscreen “often and generously” during the sun’s strongest points of the day, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. While no lotion can block all of the sun’s rays, the Mayo Clinic says you should aim for products with a minimum SPF of 30.

Donning protective clothing, like long-sleeve shirts and wide-brimmed hats, can also help protect you from the sun. However, not all items are equally effective. Darker denim and polyester, for example, typically protect better than light-hued cotton and linen.

While skin cancer may be common, with one in five Americans developing some form of it in his lifetime, it also boasts one the highest cure rates when discovered early.

“Skin cancer at its earliest stages is very curable. Melanoma at its earliest stage has a 99% cure rate,” Dr. Maral Skelsey of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington told CBS News Texas.

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