May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so to learn more we sat down with Dr. Sandy Kuo, board-certified Dermatologist at Laser Skin Care Center in Long Beach, to discuss common misconceptions, preventions, and treatments of different types of skin cancer. Here’s what we learned:
Misconception #1: Only fair-skinned people get skin cancer.
Everyone is at risk regardless of age, lifestyle, skin type, or nationality. The days of bragging about your “base tan” are long over!
Misconception #2: Skin cancer appears as a dark, raised mole.
Not all dark moles = skin cancer, and not all skin cancers = dark moles. Skin cancer can appear in a number of ways, including different shapes, sizes and discolorations. Regular skin exams and visits to your dermatologist are paramount!
Prevention is Key: Protect Yourself from UV Rays - Always!
Ultraviolet (UV) exposure is one of the most common – and most preventable – causes of skin cancer. Even skin cancers that aren’t directly linked to UV exposure are often heightened by UVA and UVB rays. So, what should you do?
Always wear sunscreen. Applying sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) should be just as much a part of your morning routine as brushing your teeth or getting dressed! Despite spending little or no time outside, you can still be at risk while indoors - even when the sun is nowhere in sight. The slightest exposure to sun can still be harmful, so be sure to make each day a “sunscreen day.”
Know when to stay out of the sun. Between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., sun exposure is typically at its strongest, so try to stay indoors during those hours if possible. Also be aware that water and snow can intensify rays emitted from the sun, and that even on overcast days the sun’s UV rays can penetrate through clouds and cause damage to your skin.
Don’t forget your accessories! While sunscreen is important, accessories like wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses are also tools that can help protect your eyes and face from harmful UV rays. These types of practices can reduce the risk of sun damage and help prevent even the most dangerous forms of skin cancer, like melanoma.
Treatment and Diagnosis Go Hand-in-Hand
Whether or not you want to admit it, it’s likely that you or someone you know will either develop or be affected by skin cancer at some point during your lifetime. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States, with one in five estimated Americans being diagnosed each year. While it can be dangerous and even life-threatening, experts like the team at Laser Skin Care Center in Long Beach diagnose, treat, and remove skin cancers every day.
“At Laser Skin Care Center, we consider every month to be Skin Cancer Awareness Month,” said Dr. Kuo. “I diagnose and treat patients for this every single day.” She adds that one of the biggest keys to combating skin cancer is early diagnosis.
“Our practice has a very high success rate when it comes to removing skin cancers that are caught early,” assured Dr. Kuo. “The earlier we can find and diagnose skin cancer, the greater the chance of a less invasive procedure and successful removal.”
Although May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, it is something to be aware of throughout the entire year. Be sure to visit your dermatologist on a regular basis and follow these prevention guidelines to protect yourself from UV rays and ultimately reduce your risk of skin cancer. To learn more about Laser Skin Care Center and sun-safety, visit https://www.lasercarespecialists.com/.