Spring has sprung and summer is right around the corner, so you’ve probably been spending plenty of time outdoors, right? Whether wandering an arts festival, taking a leisurely bike ride or catching a ballgame, make sure your upcoming plans include sun protection to help protect you and your family from skin cancer.
Here’s what you need to know:
Exposure. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes from the sun and is broken down into different wavelengths, two of which — A and B — can impact your health. UVA is generally associated with skin aging, wrinkling, and squamous cell skin cancer. UVB is more associated with sun burns and common skin cancers such as melanoma and basal cell. Safe Skin, a skin cancer screening program at Arrowhead Health Centers and Redirect Health, focuses on detecting cancers earlier, or in some cases, even in a precancerous state. For patients, this means timely appointments, expert training and technology, and comprehensive treatment plans. “Waiting more than two weeks for a mole that is changing is wasting precious time,” said Robert West, a board-certified internist and director of family practice at Arrowhead Health Centers. “Giving cancer cells more time to invade and spread just doesn’t make sense.”
Helpful hints. Want an easy way to remember sun protection strategies? West suggested borrowing from a campaign in Australia, which has the highest incidence in skin cancer in the world. The catchy campaign encourages people to “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide.” This means slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on wrap-around sunglasses.
Seeking care. As baby boomers age, the numbers of people with skin cancer likely will increase. “This may overload an already stressed system of screening and treatment at a dermatologist’s office,” West said. “It is imperative that you see a primary care provider who has been trained to recognize skin cancer.”
“One in five Americans will get skin cancer,” West said. “Chances are, a relative or more than one of your friends, has had skin cancer.”
For West, it’s personal.
“Personally, I am motivated to promote sun protection and early screening by the experiences of my own friends and family with skin cancer,” he said.