Skin Cancer: What You Need to Know and How to Protect Yourself

Over 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types. Over 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States.

Melanoma is the most dangerous; it has the ability to spread to other parts of the body and can be fatal.

*Related: The Most Serious Public Health Concerns in the U.S.

Believe it or not, you are absorbing UV radiation year-round – when it’s cloudy outside and even snowing. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and it is estimated that more than 8,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.

Avoid sunburn and skin damage by limiting your exposure in the sun and artificial UV light. Sun exposure overtime has been shown to cause skin cancer.


The Types:

Melanoma- Melanoma is the most dangerous of the skin cancers. According to New River Dermatology, it often occurs on the back of men and the legs of women. Risk for it also increases with age; the average age is between 45-50 years old. It usually appears in an odd shape, as a raised or dark flat area on the skin. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. Approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma, according to the AAD.

Basal cell carcinoma- According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “BCCs are abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). “ It tends to look like open sores, shiny bumps, red patches or scars. They also explain, “more than 4 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. In fact, BCC is the most frequently occurring form of all cancers. More than one out of every three new cancers is a skin cancer, and the vast majority are BCCs.”

Squamous cell carcinoma- Squamous cell carcinoma is an “uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skins upper layers (the epidermis),” according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. It is usually caused by cumulative UV exposure over the course of an individual’s lifetime. The most common areas it occurs include the rim of the ear, neck, hands and face.

The AAD says, “it is estimated that 144,860 new cases of melanoma, 68,480 noninvasive (in situ) and 76,380 invasive, will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016.


How to Protect Yourself:

-Do not use tanning beds

-Wear sunscreen- Apply it 15 minutes before you go outside and frequently while you are outside.

-Examine your skin monthly and check for signs of skin cancer

-Eliminate prolonged exposure to the sun

-Wear protective clothing- a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeved shirt, sunglasses etc.

-Get a skin exam from a doctor


Facts According to the AAD:

Approximately 4.9 million U.S. adults were treated for skin cancer each year from 2007 to 2011, for an average annual treatment cost of $8.1 billion.

The annual cost of treating nonmelanoma skin cancer in the U.S. is approximately $4.8 billion, while the average annual cost of treating melanoma is approximately $3.3 billion.


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