Skin Cancer Awareness Month: 4 Ways on How to Protect Yourself

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is caused by the uncontrolled division of skin cells leading to the formation of tumors. The main types of skin cancer are:

  • Actinic keratoses, which are precancerous growths.
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), affecting the lowest layer of the epidermis. This is the most common type of skin cancer and does not metastasize very often.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), affecting the top layer of the epidermis. These are less common than BCC but can spread to other parts of your body.
  • Melanoma, also affecting the melanocyte cells. This is a rare form of skin cancer but the most aggressive.

How can I lower my risk of skin cancer?

According to the WHO, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. Skin cancer is also known to be the second most common cancer in young women

These are alarming statistics, so what can we do to protect ourselves? May is skin cancer awareness month. In the spirit of creating awareness, we’ve summarised some key preventative measures for you:

1. Undergo regular screenings: This includes performing self examinations on your moles and freckles. Make sure to visit a dermatologist for formal skin cancer screenings and whenever you see any suspicious spots on your skin to catch skin cancer early on.

2. Apply sunscreen: Not just any sunscreen. Use one with an SPF of at least 30, that is broad-spectrum and water resistant and apply it over your face and body. Make sure to reapply it every 2 hours when you’re out in the sun. This will ensure that you are protected throughout the day.

3. Wear protective clothing: Wear a hat, sunglasses, and try covering your arms and legs as often as possible.

4. Avoid tanning beds: The use of tanning beds exposes you to two types of UV rays, both of which are damaging to your skin. Studies have shown that a session of indoor tanning can increase your risk of melanoma by 20%.

As the old saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. Please look after your health and that of your loved ones. Apply preventative measures where possible to lower your risk of skin cancer. Spread awareness in your community, have open conversations with your family and friends, and educate yourself. Lastly, have a safe, sunny and SPF filled summer!

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Disclaimer

The information in this article is for educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any treatments.

About the author

Ifrah Khanyaree, Medical Content Writer

Ifrah is a recent graduate in psychology and neuroscience with a penchant for extensively researching and writing content that is honest and accessible.

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