Skin Cancer Protection

It's getting hot outside and the warning about the danger of the sun is more intense than ever. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from the sun.

In 1935 the risk of getting Melanoma was 1 in 1,500 while in the year 2000 people have the risk of getting melanoma that is 1 in 75. Skin cancer can show it's self in several ways. Moles that are bleeding or change color, red scaly skin, sores that don't heal or spots that look pearly or waxy.

Doctors recommend that you check your skin at least once a month. Those over the age of 50 with fair skin and freckles are more at risk. All sunscreens are not the same, the higher the SPF the better, at least 30 to 50. And look for Micronized Zinc Oxide, it works the best and is sold under the name Coppertone Spectrum 3. Extended Web Coverage

Skin Cancer Facts

  • There are three types of skin cancer: the two most common are Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas. They are easily treated and rarely fatal. The third and most dangerous is the malignant melanoma.

  • By the year 2001, one in every 90 people in the US will get malignant melanoma. The UK figure is one in every 150-200.

  • Melanomas can spread two ways: horizontally, which gives rise to the superficial spreading melanoma, or they can grow downwards and the cells will invade the lymph glands, which is much more dangerous.

  • There's strong evidence that melanomas occur on sun-damaged skin and that people are particularly at risk when they have sudden, short bursts of sunlight on holidays in places where the sun is very strong.

  • People most at risk from melanoma include those
    • (1) With a high number of moles
    • (2) With red or fair hair, blue eyes, fair skin and freckles
    • (3) Who tan with difficulty and burn in the sun
    • (4) With a history of the disease in two or more family members

  • More women than men get melanomas. This form of cancer occurs mainly in the 40-60 year age group, but it can strike at any age. However, children are rarely affected.

  • A tan is not a sign of health, it is a sign that the skin has been damaged by ultraviolet radiation. When cells are damaged by the sun, melanin rushes to the surface to provide protection against the next onslaught. As you slowly build up a 'protective' tan, your skin is darkening in response to damage on top of damage.

  • Although melanomas can affect most parts of the body, the most common place for women to get them is on the legs, but in men, it is on the trunk, particularly on the back.

  • Over the past 60 years, damage to the planet's ozone layer has increased the amount of harmful radiation that reaches your skin.

  • UV radiation is made up of UVA and UVB rays. UVA ages the skin and UVB burns the skin. Both can cause skin cancer.

  • UV radiation is not felt as heat on the skin, so even on a cool and cloudy day, it may be just as high and just as damaging as on a clear and sunny day.

  • If detected early, skin cancer has a 99 percent cure rate.

Source: (Skin Cancer Federation Web site) contributed to this report.