This year, nearly 128,000 Californians will contract skin cancer, and one out of every five will receive this diagnosis over the course of their lifetime. But you needn’t be a statistic. While it’s the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable. So take charge of your health and protect yourself.
Take some advice from board-certified Epic Care oncologist Dr. Kenneth Chao, who offers a few rules for preventing this disease while still enjoying these beautiful summer days:
Quick-reference sun rules
• Slather on sunscreen. Yes, it sounds like a broken record, but it’s repeated time and again for good reason: the sun can damage your skin in as few as 15 minutes. “When it comes to skin cancer prevention, sunscreen can be your biggest ally,” says Chao. “Choose one that offers broad-spectrum protection with an SPF of 15 or higher. Use it every day; apply it to your entire body a half hour before going outside and reapply every two hours.”
• Watch the time. “The sun’s rays are strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” cautions Chao, “so avoiding the sun during that time frame naturally lowers the chances of serious sun damage. If you must venture out in mid day, apply sunscreen first.”
• Know your skin. “One of your greatest defenses against skin cancer is a quick, easy examination that you can do for yourself,” says Chao. “Engaging in a self exam once a month helps you recognize any changes in your skin, such as new growths or changes to existing moles. Consult your physician if you notice changes.”
• Skip the tanning salon. Tanning beds are no safer for you than the sun. In fact, they nearly triple your chances of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer. So when considering a trip to the salon, triple think that idea.
• Avoid sunburns at all costs. Melanoma risk is doubled with five or more sunburns.
• Invest in protective fashions such as wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses that offer UV protection.
You can make the difference when it comes to your health. So enjoy your summer and all the sunny weather has to offer. Just make sure to protect your skin and yourself while having your fun in the sun.
About Epic Care
Epic Care was founded in the early ’90s to offer cancer patients world-class cancer care locally. Its philosophy is to create an innovative, compassionate and supportive environment that fosters healing of the mind, body and soul. Epic Care’s board-certified experts specialize in the diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of cancer and blood disorders, while enhancing the quality of treatment by combining education, training and expertise with a highly personal approach. Epic Care operates eight care centers throughout the East Bay. For more information, call Denise Naujok at 925-331-2250 or visit www.epic-care.com.