REBECCA KAZIN, MD FAAD

PREVENTING SKIN CANCER

As invigorating as outdoor activities are for your body and soul, sun exposure of any kind can have negative consequences for your skin. In addition to causing hyperpigmentation such as brown spots and freckles, sun exposure is a major cause of skin cancer, including potentially deadly melanoma.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, including squamous cell, basal cell, and melanoma. While numbers like this make a world without skin cancer seem impossible, it is within our reach. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early. The five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98 percent. Yet, one American dies from melanoma almost every hour, which is a staggering number.

Chevy Chase, Maryland Dermatologist Rebecca Kazin says, “Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention—about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from cumulative sun exposure.”

She recommends staying out of the sun when it is strongest. Try to seek the shade between 10am and 4pm, which is not always easy to do when you are at the beach or on summer vacation. In addition to seeking shade, sunscreen is a must-have defense against burning and needs to be reapplied after swimming or exercising to remain effective. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher when you will be outdoors for long periods. Sunscreen should be broad spectrum and protect against UVA and UVB rays.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, your risk for melanoma doubles if you have had five or more sunburns at any point in your life.