How Much Do You Know About Skin Cancer?

  • Posted on: Nov 15 2018
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Primary Care Gilbert, AZWith the number of sunny, beautiful days we get around here, we’re outdoors all the time enjoying it. Unfortunately, that brings the potential of an unwanted guest to the equation — skin cancer.

Now that we’re headed into winter and less sun exposure, it’s not a bad time to take a look at your skin and keep an eye out for signs of skin cancer.

Although skin cancer treatment isn’t one of our services at Infinity Health & Wellness, we want our patients to experience the best health possible. To that end, here are some questions about skin cancer. See how you do on them.

UVA vs. UVB or both?

Sunscreens can seem confusing, with all of the numbers and letters, but it’s pretty simple once you understand a couple things. You need a sunscreen labeled “broad based” or for “both UVA and UVB rays.” When scientists were first beginning to understand the effects of sun exposure to the skin, the thinking was that only UVB rays were dangerous, as those are the rays that affect the epidermis. UVB rays cause sunburns. But now we know that UVA rays are doing their damage from below. They penetrate into the dermis, the skin’s second layer, causing skin aging and the beginnings of melanoma and other skin cancers. So, while UVA rays don’t make you peel, they could be doing even worse things in the dermis.

How much SPF is needed?

SPF is truly an area of confusion, and maybe of some profiteering by sunscreen companies. People think that the more SPF the better, and they pay through the nose for it. But the reality is that over an SPF of 30, the difference is only a couple percent in sun blocking ability. Those SPFs that claim 50 and higher are probably just setting you up to pay more.

Do you die if you get skin cancer?

Although it is the most common cancer worldwide, skin cancer isn’t the biggest killer. Most skin cancers, if detected early enough, are all treatable with surgery. That’s why yearly visits to your dermatologist are necessary, so he or she can spot the cancers and pre-cancerous spots before they progress. That’s especially true in a sunny place like Gilbert.

Is skin cancer is the most common form of cancer?

This is true. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. More than 8,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with it every day! Probably double that or more are undiagnosed.

Does sunscreen prevent skin cancer?

Nope. Sunscreen helps block the rays than lead to skin cancer, but just because you have on sunscreen doesn’t mean you can spend every waking minute in the sun without repercussions. Sun damage is cumulative.

If you have lots of moles, do you have a higher risk of melanoma?

Although moles don’t usually turn into skin cancer, there is a correlation between moles and developing melanoma. People with moles, especially large ones, have a higher risk of melanoma. The rough number is 50 — if you have more than 50 moles on your skin, your risk of skin cancer is higher.

At Infinity Health & Wellness, from medical weight loss to hormone replacement and toxicology, we’re all about helping you feel your best. But don’t overlook your skin in the meantime. Call us at (480) 427-4305 to make your next appointment with us.

Posted in: Skin Cancer