Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with over 5 million cases treated per year. Basal cell and squamous cell – two of the most common types of skin cancer — are also the most curable and preventable. The most preventable cause of skin cancer is UV (ultraviolet) light exposure. This includes the sun and tanning beds. Despite as much as we know about the harms of UV light exposure, the number of skin cancer cases continues to grow in the U.S. and worldwide.
“The message before was, ‘Wear your sunscreen,’ but now public health officials are changing that message to include other ways of protecting Americans from skin cancer,” Dr. David Weinstein, dermatologist at UCF Health, said. This includes things like allowing use of hats and sunscreen in schools; restrictions on the use of indoor tanning beds, and installing more shade structures in public places such as parks and beaches.
As warmer weather is ahead, keep the following tips in mind for your skin health:
- Have a skin check done once per year by a dermatologist. Self-checks are good too, but having a full-body scan by an expert in spotting the early stages of cancer can be lifesaving.
- When you think of sun protection, think of clothing and shade as your first line of defense. Still wear sunscreen, but think of that as a secondary defense.
- If your kids have outdoor time at school, make sure to apply sunscreen at home before they go.
- Install window film on your car windows. Car manufacturers only partially treat the windshield to block UVA rays. Untreated side windows let in about 63 percent of the sun’s UVA radiation. As seen in some studies, this has resulted in a marked difference in cancers on the left side (driver’s side) of the face versus the right side. When protective film is applied, it blocks close to 100 percent of UV light.
- skin cancer sun safety