Skin Cancer Prevention
Like all cancers, skin cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth. Too much sun or time on tanning beds can damage your skin cells. These damaged cells can multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
While not all skin cancer is preventable, there are many steps you can take to reduce your skin cancer risk:
- Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wear hats that protect your face and neck as well as clothes that cover as much of your body as possible.
- Wear a UVA- and UVB-blocking sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher all year on cloudy and clear days.
- Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin at least 30 minutes before going in the sun; reapply it every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear sunglasses.
- Be careful on sand, snow or water, which can reflect 85% of the sun's rays.
- Avoid sunlamps and tanning booths.
- Keep babies younger than six months out of the sun and protect children six months and older from too much sun exposure.
Skin Cancer Detection
It isn’t always possible to prevent skin cancer. However, skin cancers that you or your doctor find and remove early are almost always curable. This is why it’s important to have your doctor perform regular skin cancer screenings. In addition, check your skin monthly from head to toe. Look for new moles or growths. Check existing moles to see if they have changed. If you see a change or have a mole or growth that itches, bleeds or doesn't heal, make an appointment with a skin doctor.
Skin Cancer Treatment
There are different types of skin cancer. The most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These are nonmelanoma skin cancers and seldom spread to other body parts.
Skin cancer removal options depend on:
- The stage of the cancer and if it has spread
- The type of cancer
- Tumor size and the part of the body it affects
- Your health
Skin cancer treatment options include:
- Skin cancer surgery, or surgical dermatology, which cuts or freezes abnormal cells to kill them and stop them from growing.
- Internal or external radiation therapy, which uses X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
- Chemotherapy which uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.
- Retinoid drugs which affect cell growth, to treat squamous cell carcinoma.
- Photodynamic therapy which uses a light-activated drug to kill abnormal cells.
- Biologic therapy which uses the body’s immune system against cancer.
- Targeted therapy which uses drugs to attack abnormal cells.
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