May is known for sunshine, warm weather, blooming flowers, and Spring showers. But with more people being diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States than all other cancers combined, it’s only fitting that May is also known as Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Over 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day in the U.S. and over 2 people die of the disease every hour.
Three of the most common types of skin cancer are Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma and Melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is currently the most common form of skin cancer, with about 3.6 million people being diagnosed in the U.S. every year. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is second in line with about 1.8 million people being diagnosed in the U.S every year, and over 15,000 people die from SCC each year. It’s estimated that about 197,700 people in the U.S will be diagnosed with Melanoma in 2022, which is a decrease of 4.7 percent from previous years. In 2022, an estimated 7,650 people will die from Melanoma, according to skincancer.org.
Melanoma only accounts for about 1% of all skin cancers, but it’s also the deadliest. Luckily, there are simple ways to check for early signs of Melanoma, and we call them the ABC’s of Melanoma. We recommend visiting your dermatologist regularly for check-ups and checking your own skin for new moles periodically. Having any of the ABC’s doesn’t automatically mean you have melanoma and you should not self-diagnose, but it might be worth making an appointment with your dermatologist to get their opinion.
• A – Asymmetry, referring to a mole not being uniform in shape.
• B – Border, meaning the borders of the mole is not well defined or is irregular in shape.
• C – Color, the mole may be more than one color or shade.
• D – Diameter. The mole is larger than 6mm in diameter.
• E – Evolving, meaning the mole is ever changing in size, shape and/or color.
There are several things you can do starting today to reduce your risk of Melanoma as well as other types of skin cancer. Start by wearing sunscreen daily, studies show that daily SPF reduces the risk of Melanoma by 50%, we believe it should always be part of your daily skin care routine. The CDC recommends doing everything you can to limit exposure to UV rays, this includes staying in the shade when possible, wearing clothing to cover your arms and legs and wearing hats and sunglasses to avoid direct sun on your face and neck.
One of the most important tips to reduce the risk of all types of skin cancer is to avoid the use of indoor tanning beds! More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning beds, 6,200 of those cases being Melanoma. Tanning beds can emit UV radiation that is 10 to 15 times higher than the sun at its peak intensity, according to skincancer.org. People who use tanning beds before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent, and any history of indoor tanning increases the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma before age 40 by 69 percent. Lastly, more people develop skin cancer from indoor tanning than develop lung cancer from smoking.
Skin cancer is so common and isn’t something that should be taken lightly, visit the dermatologist regularly and check your moles for the ABC’s of Melanoma when you see them. Avoid indoor tanning beds at all costs and never forget to put on your sunscreen.