A healthy, vibrant 56-year-old woman, Alice always prided herself on taking care of her skin. She had regular check-ups with her dermatologist, and her grandmother had always warned her about staying out of the sun. It was three days before her marriage to the love of her life, and she noticed a small pink mole on her stomach. After her honeymoon, her husband noticed the mole had grown a bit bigger, so she went to have it checked out. To her shock, she was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma – the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and her life was thrown into turmoil.
Alice is not alone. You may be surprised to learn that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. Every year, more new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed than the number of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer cases combined.
Whether you are male or female, whether you have light skin or dark skin, whether you are ninety years old or nine, skin cancer can affect anyone. The American Skin Cancer Society reports that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.
These statistics are alarming, but because skin cancer is directly linked to the sun, it is highly preventable.
“About 86 percent of melanomas and 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays,” said Perry Robins, MD, president of the Skin Cancer Foundation. “That’s why embracing proper sun protection is critical year-round. You’ll reduce your skin cancer risk and help prevent wrinkles, leathery skin and brown spots.”
Follow the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Prevention Guidelines to stay sun-safe:
- Stay in the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Do not allow your skin to burn.
- Avoid tanning, and NEVER use UV tanning beds.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. At Azul, we recommend using any of our three specially formulated sunscreens – Satin Eclipse Sunscreen (SPF34), Mineral Defense Sunscreen (SPF32) or Ultra Natural Sunscreen (SPF32)
- Apply two tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep your newborn baby out of the sun. Sunscreens should only be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month, and look for any changes to freckles or moles.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
After undergoing twelve months of aggressive Interferon treatment and battling for her life, Alice’s cancer went into remission, and for the last four years she has been cancer-free. In her own words, “I encourage everyone to get checked at least once a year… you don’t think it can happen to you, but it can!”
For more information, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website, SkinCancer.org, which features more than 600 pages of medically reviewed content on skin cancer prevention, early detection and treatment.