How men can protect themselves from life-threatening skin cancer.
It’s the first day of vacation, and you and your buddies are beginning an awesome week at the lake. Everybody’s taking their shirts off to soak up the sun between dives into the cool water. It’s a great way to spend the day, right?
Wrong. The truth is, it might be a way to open yourself up to a disease that affects millions worldwide and is potentially fatal.
Men who continually expose their skin to the sun without using a proper sunscreen are at significant risk for developing skin cancer. They’re also at a higher risk of dying from it than women, a fact that may come as a shock to some guys. It doesn’t matter how tough you are or how hard you work – cancer of the skin is an equal-opportunity attacker.
June is Men’s Health/Cancer Awareness Month, and DermSurgery Associates wants to encourage all men, regardless of what they do outside under the sun, to do it intelligently. That means regularly applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen. It’s not hard to do. Like anything else, protecting your skin from the sun can become a habit, no different from shaving or brushing your teeth. But for the action to become a habit, you have to be diligent about it.
The important difference between UV-A and UV-B sun rays
If you’re nicely tanned, you probably don’t need to worry too much about sunburn, which is caused by ultraviolet light from the sun known as UV-B rays. UV-A rays, however, are a different story. This invisible light source penetrates deeper into your skin than UV-B and is known to cause at least three types of skin cancer in men and women: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
This should once and for all put to rest the myth that if you maintain a good tan and never suffer sunburn, you have no need to worry about using sunscreen protection.
A sunscreen with a high SPF factor is not a safeguard against dangerous UV-A rays. Sunscreen products labeled “broad-spectrum” are the only types of lotion designed to block harmful ultraviolet light that can lead to skin cancer, particularly melanoma, the most dangerous of all skin cancers.
Skin cancer in men: Stats you need to know
Studies show that the vast majority of melanomas are caused by UV-A rays penetrating unprotected skin. Studies also show that men are more susceptible and less resilient than women.
- Men aged between 15 and 39 die from melanoma 55% more often than similarly aged women
- It has been estimated that 45,060 men were diagnosed with invasive melanoma in 2013, compared to 31,630 women
- Estimated deaths in 2013 from melanoma: 6,280 men, 3,200 women
- Melanoma in men is the fifth most common form of cancer; it is seventh for women
Melanoma in many cases becomes particularly dangerous because people fail to have regular tests to detect it. This is one of the reasons that Men’s Health/Cancer Awareness Month each June is so important – healthcare professionals everywhere aim to educate men ahead of time so they can make wise decisions and take necessary precautions.
Most people as they age acquire what we think of as “age spots,” and most of those spots are in no way harmful. But a spot that is pre-cancerous melanoma, if left alone, can become cancerous and lead to many problems including not only death but also a constant recurrence of the cancer. Melanoma survivors are nine times as likely as those without the condition to develop it again.
Be proactive with comprehensive skin cancer testing and treatment
DermSurgery Associates dermatologists are experts at testing for and treating melanoma skin cancer. If you’re a man who regularly exposes his unprotected skin to the sun, we offer two pieces of advice:
- Begin using a broad-spectrum sunscreen immediately
- Make an appointment with one of our highly skilled dermatologists to check for cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions on your skin.
Be proactive. Don’t put this important procedure off.
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DermSurgery Associates is a Greater Houston area dermatology practice offering cosmetic, surgical and non-invasive dermatology treatments and procedures with industry-leading physicians trained and experienced with the most current dermatology technologies and procedures. For more information, contact
7515 Main, Suite 240
Houston, TX 77030