Two million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. While the incidence of many cancers is falling, the incidence of a potentially deadly skin cancer (melanoma) and other skin cancers is rising (SCC and BCC). However, skin cancer is among the most preventable forms of cancer and when detected early is one of the most treatable. Prevention is the best strategy, and here are some useful tips for effective skin cancer prevention:
- Use sun protection daily: There are dozens of broad-spectrum (i.e. covering both the UVA and UVB range of ultraviolet radiation) sun blocks on the market. I always recommend using one that you will actually wear. Some are better for sporting activities while others are more suited for everyday activi- ties. Make sure to get a nice coating and reapply throughout the day. If skin cancer prevention doesn’t persuade you to wear sunblock, consider the fact that sunblock will delay wrinkle formation and keep your skin looking more youthful.
- Avoid direct and intentional sun at peak hours (10am-3pm)
- Wear a wide brimmed hat
- Wear sunglasses (make sure the lenses have a UV coat)
- Skip the tanning salon: Pale is the new tan. Artificial lights provide much higher doses of ultraviolet radiation and can be extremely damaging. The claims made by tanning salons about the lights are unfounded; they actually cause a significant amount of skin damage.
Treatment options abound. Traditional modalities offer the best cure rates, however, there are many newer options available. Medical, surgical (traditional excision, Mohs vs. liquid nitrogen), and light-based therapy are often used in combination and tend to provide the best results.