As the Houston area heads toward another hot summer with lots of fun in the sun or just being out in the sun, this spring is a good time to make sure your skin is ready for another bout with the sun’s UV rays. There are two easy ways to do this: 1. Have a quick screening to spot skin cancer, and 2. Protect your skin the smart way.
How dermatologists spot skin cancer
The proven best way to spot skin cancer in patients of all ages and skin types is through a simple screening process performed on an outpatient basis. When conducted by a trained dermatologist, a skin cancer screening is a painless, non-invasive procedure that helps the doctor detect cancer in its earliest stages.
Virtually all healthcare agencies and practitioners recommend annual screenings to spot skin cancer. Why is this so important?
- Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, often referred to as “non-melanoma skin cancer,” are the most common types of skin cancer and cause about 18,000 deaths per year in the U.S.
- Cases of non-melanoma skin cancer rose 77 percent between 1994 and 2014.
- Melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer, is responsible for more than 9,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. It is expected that 178,000 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in America in 2018.
- Between 85 and 90 percent of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
- There is no “set” length of time it takes the sun to cause cancer. Some patients are young and have had relatively little sun exposure, while others are older and have spent vast amounts of time in the sun.
Can you spot skin cancer at home?
In some cases you can detect what may be skin cancer on your body. Moles with irregular shapes and colors can be a clue. Any kind of skin spot that increases in size could be another warning. While there’s nothing wrong with watching your skin closely, trust a trained medical professional to accurately diagnose skin cancer. Regular skin cancer screenings will not only tell the doctor if skin cancer is present, but these checks can lead to other tests to determine the exact type of cancer and its stage of development.
What you can do to prevent skin cancer
The goal in skin-cancer prevention is to reduce or eliminate the effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Basically there are two ways to accomplish this:
- Cover your skin when you’ll be out in the sun for more than just a few minutes. Wide-brimmed hats and light, long-sleeved clothing are good choices.
- Use a high-quality sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Get in the habit of applying this product every time you go out into the sun. With regular use, it will become as automatic as applying moisturizing lotion.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had a professional check to spot skin cancer – or if you’ve never had one – make an appointment with DermSurgery Associates at one of our convenient locations.
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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