Simple Steps to Prevent and Detect Melanoma/Skin Cancer

Summer is right around the corner and where there is more sun, there is often more skin exposure. May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month and we are going to look at some ways you can prevent and detect skin cancer.

 

PREVENT

Cover up with clothes and sunscreen.

As a rule of thumb, cover up as much as possible. Be sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses. Use broad spectrum (UVA/B) sunblock with SPF 15 or higher every day. If you’ll be active outdoors, opt for a water-resistant, UVA or UVB sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. (Sunscreens should be used on babies over six months of age.)

Avoid harsh sun and tanning.

Avoid getting a sunburned at all costs. Skip the tanning and never use UV tanning beds. The sun is strongest between 10AM and 4PM, so try to avoid the sun during these hours and find some shade. Make sure to keep newborns out of the sun.

 

DETECT

Perform a head-to-toe self exam.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends everyone practices a self examination every month.  Skin cancers found and removed early are, more often than not, curable. You may find having a doctor perform the initial examination will help assure you that any existing spots, moles or freckles are totally normal and treat any that aren’t. After that a routine self exam shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes.

Get your partner involved.

In addition to seeing your physician annually for a professional skin exam, have your partner keep an eye out for any changes in your skin. Sometimes they see parts of our bodies that we don’t see everyday (like the small of our back or behind your neck). Have a discussion about the importance of paying attention to changes in your skin and make sure you return the favor by keeping an eye on any changes on their skin.

Get regular massages.

First, you should know, it’s not up to your massage therapist to check you for signs of cancer, but it definitely can’t hurt having an extra set of eyes on you! When you are a receiving regular massages, your massage therapist will become familiar with your body and all the little markings that go with it. Sometimes, a massage therapist is a first line of defense since they will notice if a birthmark, freckle, or mole has changed size or shape.  

Prevention is only half the battle. And hopefully it’s the only battle you will ever face. If you should happen to find yourself in a different battle, the early detection of skin cancer is paramount. The sooner you catch it, the better your chances are of beating it.

Enjoy your summer, but remember to protect yourself from the sun and bring ANYTHING suspicious to your doctor immediately.

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