BLOGS from St. Anthony
When it comes to summer in Iowa, time is spent in the great outdoors appreciating blue skies and sunshine. Did you know that Vitamin D from the sun has a myriad of benefits, including a boost to your immune system, increased levels of serotonin, increased bone strength, and much more? However, too many of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV radiation) can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. According to Skin Cancer Foundation, it is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide, in fact, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- 2 or more people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
- Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.
- When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent.
Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has easy options for protecting yourself from UV rays.
- Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
- Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.
- Avoid indoor tanning.
What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole. Not all skin cancers look the same. For melanoma specifically, a simple way to remember the warning signs is to remember the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma.
- “A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
- “B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
- “C” is for color. Is the color uneven?
- “D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
- “E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?
According to the CDC, fewer than 15% of men and 30% of women use sunscreen regularly on their face and other exposed skin when outside for more than one hour. The American Cancer Society recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. It is very important to read the label on sunscreen to know that it is both broad-spectrum and water-resistant. Reading the label will also tell you how often to re-apply the sunscreen based on how water-resistant it is. Some need to be re-applied as often as every 40 minutes, and after swimming or sweating.
Talk to your medical provider if you notice changes in your skin such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, a change in an old-growth, or any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma.
St. Anthony Regional Hospital (Carroll, IA) is dedicated to improving the health of the people we serve. We believe in providing high quality, healthcare services responsive to the needs of our patients. For more information, visit our website or call us at 712-792-3581. Follow us on Facebook!
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