Your skin is your largest and most visible organ. It´s exposed to the elements daily, oftentimes without protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays. With Independence Day weekend already upon us, you´re probably planning to be outside more than usual.
In recognition of UV Safety Month, we want to give you the information you need to be proactive when it comes to taking care of your skin.
What is skin cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which certain body cells don’t function right, divide very fast, and produce too much tissue that forms a tumor. The skin is the body’s largest organ. It protects us against heat, light, injury, and infection. It regulates body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D. The two most common kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The most serious kind of skin cancer is called melanoma.
Why should I be concerned about skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. The number of new cases of skin cancer appears to be rising each year. The number of deaths due to skin cancer, though, is fairly small. The good news is that skin cancer is now almost 100% curable if found early and treated promptly.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. Artificial sources of UV radiation, such as sunlamps and tanning booths, can also cause skin cancer. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have fair skin that freckles easily — often those with red or blond hair and blue or light-colored eyes. Most skin cancers appear after age 50, but the sun’s damaging effects begin at an early age. So, protection should start in childhood to prevent skin cancer later in life.
Where can I learn more about skin cancer?
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the federal government’s authority on skin cancer. Contact them at 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237) or go to the following web site:
• Website: www.nci.nih.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/skin.
Screening Tests and Immunizations Guidelines for Women
- Skin Health: Mole exam
- Ages 18-39: Monthly mole self-exam; by a doctor every 3 years, starting at age 20.
- Ages 40-49: Monthly mole self-exam; by a doctor every year.
- Ages 50-64: Monthly mole self-exam; by a doctor every year.
- Ages 65 and Older: Monthly mole self-exam; by a doctor every year.
For More Information…
You can also find out more about skin cancer by contacting the National Women’s Health Information Center 1-800-994-9662 or the following organizations:
National Cancer Institute
Cancer Information Service
Phone: (800) 422-6237
American Cancer Society
• Internet Address: www.cancer.org
American Academy of Dermatology
• Internet Address: www.aad.org
The Skin Cancer Foundation
• Internet Address: www.skincancer.org