LadyLUX understands that it can be overwhelming to constantly hear how the sun can damage your skin. But it never hurts to hear a few reminders of how you can protect and take care of your skin just in time for summer. May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the perfect time for the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) to repeat the facts, signs and cures of skin cancer. After conducting a new survey, the AAD, wants everyone to know that there is no such thing as a safe tan and if detected early, skin cancer actually has a high cure rate.
The AAD officially launched their new public awareness initiative and website—www.SPOTSkinCancer.org—to promote Melanoma Awareness. For the last 17 years the AAD has shared ways to obtain healthier skin. They debuted Melanoma Mondays, where every Monday during the month of May, website visitors can learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking skin changes and locate free skin cancer screenings in their area. Those visitors affected by skin cancer can share their story on the website and download free materials to educate others in their community.
The campaign’s tagline—“Prevent. Detect. Live.”—focuses on the actions people can take to protect themselves from skin cancer. “Protect” your skin by applying sunscreen, finding shade and wearing hats, “detect” by completing skin self-exams and “live” by seeing your dermatologist when you see an out of the ordinary spot on your skin.
“Unlike other types of cancer that can’t be seen by the naked eye, skin cancer shows obvious signs on the surface of the skin that can be easily detected by properly examining it,” said board-certified dermatologist Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD, president of AAD. “The goal of SPOT Skin Cancer is to help save lives by educating the public on how to protect themselves from the sun and how to examine their skin for suspicious spots.”
A new survey conducted by the AAD discovered that many people do not know how to spot skin cancer and are not aware of their risk of developing the skin disease. The online survey was conducted by Relevant Research, Inc. of Chicago over a year’s time span with 1,151 adult participants. According to the AAD survey, almost 74 percent of respondents did not know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Only 53 percent of respondents knew how to examine their skin for signs of skin cancer. Thirty percent of respondents did not know that if caught at its earliest stage, skin cancer can be easily treated.
Also found in the survey was nearly half of young-adult respondents agreed that they prefer to enjoy sunshine and not worry about what they do to protect themselves from it. Nearly one quarter of all respondents was unaware or not sure that tanning beds are not safer than the sun. Only 35 percent of young adult respondents ages 18-29 knew that a base tan was not a healthy way to protect skin from sun damage. Thirty one percent of young adults were unsure or did not know that sun exposure can cause wrinkles.
By these statistics, it is determined that young adults are unfamiliar with the dangers of tanning beds and how to properly protect their skin from sun damage. With regular education and awareness, more people can learn the facts, signs and preventions of skin cancer.
“When it comes to skin cancer, our survey demonstrates that knowledge is power,” said Dr. Siegel. “For example, respondents who know how to examine their skin for signs of skin cancer were more than twice as likely to have shown suspicious moles or spots to a medical professional as those who did not know how to spot the warning signs of skin cancer on their skin. In some instances, this knowledge can mean the difference between life and death, which is why it is so important to see a dermatologist if you notice a spot on your skin that is changing, itching or bleeding.”
Here are some good facts that everyone should know about skin cancer:
• More than 3.5 million skin cancer cases affecting 2 million people are diagnosed annually.
• The current estimates are that 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.
• The American Cancer Society estimates that the five-year survival rate for individuals whose melanoma is localized and has not spread is 98 percent.
• Melanoma is the number one form of cancer in young adults ages 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer in teens and young adults ages 15-29.
• Melanoma is increasing faster in females than males in the same age group of 15-29.
• There is estimation that there will be over 131,000 new cases of melanoma in 2012.
• Tanning bed exposure increases your risk of melanoma, especially in women ages 45 and younger. The torso and trunk is the area most affected by skin cancer, due to high-risk tanning activities.
“It’s troubling that so many young adults do not fully understand the consequences of tanning–whether from tanning beds or natural sunlight–particularly in light of the trend of more young people developing skin cancer,” said board-certified dermatologist Amanda Friedrichs, MD, FAAD. “Our survey confirmed that age was highly associated with use of tanning beds, as respondents ages 18-29 years old were much more likely as those over age 30 to report using a tanning bed.”
Dr. Friedrichs highly recommends using self-tanner instead of tanning beds. When used correctly, self-tanners can still give you a natural-looking tan by following some simple steps. Exfoliate and dry your skin prior to applying, apply in sections and then blend all together, dilute the tanner around your joints where tanner can absorb more and allow time to dry to get the best results possible without smearing or streaking. Don’t forget that you still need to apply an SPF of 30 or higher when you go outside even though you have your perfect glow.