May is here, which means we’re also entering Skin Cancer Awareness Month! Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with 1 in 5 Americans, 1 in 7 Canadians, and 2 in 3 Australians developing the cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers. This Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we’re raising awareness by providing you with some useful advice to reduce your skin cancer risk, as well as tips to check your body for any signs of skin cancer.
As you probably know, the major cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. That’s why it’s important to stay protected under the sun to reduce your risk of skin cancer. First off, sunscreen is always a good idea. Make sure to use one that’s broad-spectrum and contains an SPF of at least 30. Besides sunscreen, covering up your body with UV-protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat are also good forms of sun protection. Don’t forget your sunglasses either; they’ll help protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them from sun damage. Additionally, the sun is strongest in the middle of the day, so try to seek shade during this time. To stay safe in the sun, you can also use the free sun safety app, Sun Index. Available for iOS and Android, the app gives tailored sun safety recommendations, like how long you can stay out in the sun before getting a sunburn. It can also tell you the hours that the sun is strongest during the day.
Besides following these tips, frequent body checks are also important to check for any early warning signs of skin cancer. Skin cancers that are found and removed early are often curable. It’s recommended that you examine your skin from head to toe once a month. Be on the lookout for the 5 ABCDE’s: Asymmetry, Borders (uneven, scalloped, or notched edges), Colors (variety of shades), Diameter (greater than 6mm), and Evolution (change in size, shape, color, height). If you detect anything suspicious, make sure you see a physician immediately. The Skin Cancer Foundation also has some helpful tips for performing self-examinations.