Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, outpacing all other cancers combined. Thankfully, most skin cancers are easily treated, but melanoma presents a more dangerous problem — a problem that grew by 50% in the U.S. in the last 10 years. In fact, experts predict that more than 190,000 cases will be diagnosed in 2019 alone.
At Surgical Associates of North Texas, our goal is to help our patients in McKinney, Texas, avoid a skin cancer diagnosis altogether. While our team is led by Dr. Scott deVilleneuve, a specialist in melanoma surgery, we feel that preventive measures offer the best protection.
To that end, we’ve pulled together a few tips to help you avoid melanoma and other sun-related issues.
Know the code
In an effort to prevent skin cancer diagnoses of all kinds, the American Cancer Society has come up with an easy-to-remember code for being out in the sun: “Slip! Slop! Slap!®… and Wrap,” which means:
- Slip on a shirt
- Slop on sunscreen
- Slap on a hat
- Wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them
This code should be in place any time you head out into the sun, especially if you consider that up to 90% of skin cancers and 86% of melanomas are directly linked to exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
Breaking down SPF
Any pharmacy or grocery store holds ample choices when it comes to sunscreen — in fact, the sheer variety can leave you wondering which one is best. Our recommendation is that you go with a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher if you plan on being out in the sun for any length of time.
For simply running around, going in and out of the sun, an SPF of 15 offers fairly good protection. Studies show that daily use of sunscreen with an SPF of 15 can reduce your chances of developing melanoma by up to 50%.
Stay in the shade
While sunscreen can offer good protection, nothing beats staying out of the sun altogether. We recommend that during the peak hours of sun, usually between 10am and 4pm, you stay out of the sun and in the shade. Even if your “shade” is under a hat.
Steer clear of tanning beds
Tanning beds are not good for your skin, period. This type of exposure can lead to any number of skin issues, melanoma among them. We urge you to resist the tanning bed and go for a spray tan instead if you want to add a little color to your skin.
While it’s near impossible to check every inch of your skin, you should familiarize yourself with your topography to some extent so that you’re better able to notice abnormal moles or skin discolorations. We also recommend that you undergo a regular skin check with a dermatologist, who’s trained to spot potential problems.
Get the right help
If you’ve been diagnosed with melanoma, the first order of business is to remove the cancerous tissue. Our own Dr. deVilleneuve has extensive experience in this arena, including sentinel lymph node biopsies, which are used to help determine if the cancer has spread beyond the original location.
If you’d like to learn more about protecting yourself against melanoma and other sun-related skin issues, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (972) 947-2264. Or you can use the online scheduling tool to book an appointment.