Taking Preventative Action to Stop Second Diagnoses
In the news, in magazines, and from our doctors we are always hearing ways to prevent skin cancer and how to protect our skin from harmful UV rays. But what if you’ve already had skin cancer? Is there different advice?
Research is showing a rise in non-melanoma skin cancers so the number of patients who have a history of skin cancer is also on the rise. While basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are curable if treated promptly, your risk of getting skin cancer again increases by 40% once you’ve had it and it often happens within two years of removal. And your risk of getting skin cancer not only increases in non-melanoma skin cancers but also increases in getting melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
And new research has shown that patients who have or have had non-melanoma skin cancers have an increased risk in getting a second primary cancer such as breast cancer and lung cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
With all that said the key to preventing skin cancer and even primary cancers as well is to take action now. Those who haven’t had skin cancer must make wearing sun screen of at least SPF 30 part of their daily routine, and reapplying every two hours if out in the sun. You also should seek shade during the brightest hours, saving outdoor activities for early morning and evening. If you have to be out in the sun during the brightest hours, protect your eyes with sunglasses and wear a hat. If you have already had or currently have skin cancer the key to preventing reoccurrence is taking all the precautions listed above as well as getting skin cancer screenings more frequently than the average person. This means getting checked as often as every two to six months depending on what your dermatologist suggests. Also know your warning signs of not only non-melanoma skin cancer but melanoma as well. Below are the Skin Cancer Foundations ABCDE’s of Melanoma:
A - Asymmetry - If a mole you have is asymmetrical, meaning if you drew a line down the middle of it and the two sides do not match, that is a warning sign for melanoma.
B - Border - A benign mole has smooth borders, unlike an early melanoma mole tend to be uneven.
C - Color - Most benign moles have one color, while having a variety of colors is a warning sign for cancer.
D - Diameter - Benign moles usually have a smaller diameter than malignant ones. Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip.
E - Evolving - Common, benign moles look the same over time. Be on the alert when a mole starts to evolve or change in any way. When a mole is evolving, see a doctor.
The key to preventing skin cancer at any stage, whether it is a first time diagnosis or not, is taking preventative action and early detection. Be on the look out for warnings and stay protected from UV rays and check in with your doctor regularly.