Your chance of contracting skin cancer is influenced by a variety of factors, such as gender and age. Generally speaking, though, the lighter your skin color, the higher your risk. Caucasians, for instance, have a risk of 1 in 40, while African Americans carry a risk of 1 in 1,000. Where you fit within that range depends on factors such as the lightness of your skin, how much sun exposure you've had, your family history of skin cancer and the presence of markings on your skin, such as freckles or moles. Even if your risk is higher than average, you can still take steps to protect your skin in the summer months and even remove cancerous lesions that have already begun to form.
Preventing skin cancer
Escaping the sun is the most logical place to start if you are trying to protect your skin from new cancer or a recurrence, but depending on where you live and how you earn your living, it may not be possible to go completely sun-free. In lieu of complete avoidance, you can still protect yourself by seeking shady areas during the time between mid-morning and late afternoon. Cover your skin with clothing or a broad spectrum sunblock that is at least SPF 30, and don't be fooled into thinking that tanning beds are safe: A 2014 study estimated that tanning beds may be responsible for 400,000 skin cancer cases in the U.S. each year. A tan is actually an injury to your skin, and a burn is even worse, so avoid burns at all cost. Check your own skin very carefully for suspicious changes and visit your dermatologist for regular screenings.
Skin Cancer Removal Options
If you do receive a skin cancer diagnosis, treatment options are available, such as radiation and surgery. Mohs surgery is often a great option for Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, resulting in a cure rate of 98 percent. Mohs surgery involves a microscopic inspection of each layer of skin that is removed, while surgery is in progress, before any subsequent layers are excised. This enables the surgical team to determine when to stop without removing excess cancer-free tissue. While Mohs surgery can be performed on select malignant melanomas, the usual surgery that involves removal of the margin, or benign tissue surrounding the malignancy, is still a standard approach for this cancer. Your plastic surgeon will explain the surgical options that are best for your situation, enabling you to make an informed decision.
Skin cancer is, in most cases, preventable and treatable. Early intervention results in a high rate of treatment success, and preventative measures such as sun avoidance can prevent new or return occurrences. Discuss your individual situation with your doctor to ensure your continued health and well-being.
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