No matter how enjoyable it is to be outdoors – summer, winter, spring or fall – your skin is under constant bombardment from the ultraviolet rays of the sun and these rays age your skin, cause wrinkles, age spots and unfortunately may even cause skin cancer (melanoma).
Winter sun can be as damaging as summer sun – so now is a good time to brush up on skin cancer facts and prevention – before you head off for those snowy, ski-packed hills!
- The most common form of cancer is skin cancer. Over one million people in the U.S. each year are diagnosed with skin cancer. Sadly, many more go undiagnosed.
- Skin cancer is serious but most skin cancers, if found early, are treatable, usually by surgical removal.
- Did you know that sun exposure is cumulative over your lifetime?
- Some of the most common risk factors for skin cancer include regular sun exposure, pale skin, family history and being over the age of forty.
- People with many moles have a higher risk of melanoma. That’s why it is a good idea to have your moles checked once a year to see if they change size, shape or color.
- Sunscreen does not prevent skin cancer – but it does help block the rays than lead to skin cancer. To be effective, however, sunscreen must be worn!
- Some sunscreen labels say they block UVB rays; others say they are broad based. Choose a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays because both are damaging to your skin. UVA rays penetrate the epidermis affecting the dermis beneath which causes your skin to age and can lead to skin cancer. UVB rays burn the epidermis and also lead to skin cancer lesions.
A Gentle Reminder: It is critical as you age, to have your skin checked – all of it – at least once a year for any changes or abnormalities and to have any pre-cancerous lesions treated. Any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths should be examined.