3 Reasons to Take Skin Cancer More Seriously
Your skin is the biggest organ in your body and your first line of protection against any harm. This also makes it vulnerable to outside forces, such as the sun or extreme temperatures. Yet, people often ignore their doctor’s warnings about skin health and the importance of protecting their skin against UV radiation, which can cause skin cancer. The experts at Sanova Dermatology are dedicated to helping you maintain healthy skin, and we want you to know why you should take skin cancer more seriously.
1. It’s More Common Than you Think
Typically overshadowed by other well-known cancers such as breast cancer or pancreatic cancer, skin cancer is actually the most common cancer worldwide. In the United States, there are over 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed yearly, affecting one in five people by the age of 70. More than two people die every hour due to skin cancer. And while sunburns are common and usually considered only minor annoyances, a history of 5 or more sunburns doubles your lifetime risk of skin cancer. Those are very high risks for a type of cancer that is mostly preventable given the proper protection.
2. Darker Skin Will Not Always Protect You
A big myth about skin cancer is that it only affects fair or light-skinned people. While darker-skinned people are indeed more protected by the melanin—the pigment in the skin which protects against the effects of sun damage—in their skin, it does not mean they cannot get skin cancer. In fact, skin cancer represents 1-2% of all cancers in African Americans and 4-5% of all cancers in Hispanics.
Overall, people of color have higher rates of late-stage diagnosed skin cancer, and even worse, the survival rate of melanoma in African Americans is less than 70% when compared to the 94% survival rate in Caucasians. Much of this can be attributed to the late-stage diagnosis mentioned above. Your skin color cannot protect you 100% of the time, especially if you don’t use sunscreen or if you receive a lot of sun exposure.
3. The Sun Is Not The Only Cause of Skin Cancer
While 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure, it’s not the only way to develop skin cancer. Using tanning beds greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. In the US, more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer are linked to indoor tanning alone. While some people may think that indoor tanning is safer than tanning outside, indoor tanning devices can emit UV radiation 10 to 15 times higher than the sun when it’s at its peak intensity. And tanning in general, whether it is outside or indoors increases your exposure to UV light radiation, increases the risk of burns and skin cancer, and is not recommended by health professionals.
Skin cancer doesn’t receive the same type of media coverage as other cancers, probably because when caught early the survival rate is 99%. This high survival rate is all the more reason to take your skin health seriously because skin cancer is preventable and can be easily treated if caught early. If you are concerned about the condition of your skin and you want to have a skin cancer check, or if you simply want to learn more about the treatment and prevention of skin cancer, contact us to make an appointment with an experienced dermatologist.