Skip to main content

How To Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk This Summer

Jun 18, 2015 01:53PM, Published by Kevin, Categories: Wellness, Today Health



The official start of summer is June 21, but in Texas there are few days on the calendar when guarding against sun damage shouldn’t be a priority. Summer brings us outdoors more with a variety of activities and abundant sunshine. As an oncologist, I am all too familiar with the consequences of sun exposure. In fact, this year approximately 2,400 Texans will get melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.   Nearly 10,000 Americans are projected to die from melanoma in 2015.

So, how does the sun cause damage? When you expose your skin to the sun, it absorbs UVA and UVB rays that create changes in skin cells. Often these changes are temporary: the skin tans, burns, or freckles. In the long term, they can have lasting impact – wrinkles, premature aging, and skin cancer, including melanoma which originates from DNA mutations caused by UV rays. Living in Texas exposes all of us to much higher amounts of UV rays than most of the country.  In fact, only a handful of major cities in the U.S. have higher annual UV exposure than Dallas-Ft Worth. 

If you have darker skin, you may not burn as easily as someone more fair-skinned, but this does not prevent long-term sun damage. Children are particularly vulnerable as they often are not thinking about risk of sunburn and they accrue extensive sun exposure that puts them at a much higher risk of melanoma in adulthood because of it.  Everyone is at risk of melanoma and can benefit from sun protection.

Here’s how:

Use Sunscreen Liberally. Use sunscreen, generously, with at least 30 SPF and reapply at least every two hours. If you’re swimming or sweating a lot, use water-resistant sunscreen, and reapply more often, every 40 to 60 minutes.  Be careful to take care of those “forgettable” places like the tops of your ears and your feet.

Dress for Skin Safety Success. Sun protection is not just for the beach or pool. The Texas sun shines brightly everywhere, so it’s important to dress properly. Wear long pants and shirt sleeves when it’s a reasonable option.  Protect your scalp, ears, and face with a wide-brimmed hat, and shield your eyes with sunglasses.  Eye damage from sun exposure is common and can include melanoma as well.

Stay Ahead of Sun Damage. Keep a portable sunscreen bottle and hat with you whenever you can.   Try to prepare for occasions when sun exposure may be a significant problem that you might not anticipate. Situations such as attending a Rangers game, a surprise stop to play miniature golf with the kids, or a trip to the dog park, etc. can often lead to as much sun damage as laying by the pool, but we often forget to prepare for them.  Children are at particular risk so talk to them about using sunscreen and reapplying it, avoiding unnecessary exposure, and quickly getting out of the sun when they exhibit signs of sunburn.

Avoid Tanning Beds. It’s very common to see younger patients with melanoma that have a history of heavy tanning bed use and the extra UV rays that they bring.  It’s simply not worth the risk, and the premature aging and wrinkles are a common cause of regret in former tanning bed users.

Fortunately, the most prevalent forms of skin cancer often are the most treatable. When caught at the earliest stages, basal and squamous cell skin cancers usually can be treated with outpatient procedures. More serious forms of skin cancer, like melanoma, are rarer but can be fatal. It’s important to self-examine your skin frequently and have a family member or friend check your back and areas you aren’t able to see well.  If you find something suspicious, have your primary care physician or dermatologist look at it immediately.  The earlier melanomas and other skin cancers are found the less risk one will have and the less aggressive the treatments required will be. 

Dr. Scott Fleischauer is a medical oncologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. Dr. Fleischauer’s office, Texas Oncology-North Arlington, is located at 902 W. Randol Mill Road, Suite 150 in Arlington, Texas, and can be reached by calling 817-664-9600.


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Mansfield Magazine's free newsletter to get regular updates



Embed this content on your website

Embed


health skin cancer sunburn tanning columns


  • Exhibit: Seeing is a Nervous Habit

    09/20/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    A retrospective of Kenda North’s work. The exhibit will be accompanied by a group exhibition of f...


  • Little Naturalist

    09/20/2017
    10:30AM — 11:15AM

    Nurture Nature- Children ages 3‐5 will learn about nature through discovery. We will read, sing, ...


  • Home School Nature Class

    09/20/2017
    01:00PM — 02:00PM

    Join us for science and nature related lessons and guided investigation of Oliver Nature Park. Le...


  • Exhibit: Seeing is a Nervous Habit

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    A retrospective of Kenda North’s work. The exhibit will be accompanied by a group exhibition of f...


  • Texas Coin Shows in Grapevine

    09/22/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Add to your collection at the Texas Coin Shows on Sept. 22-24 at the Convention Center, 1209 S. M...


  • Maverick Home Volleyball Game

    09/22/2017
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    Volleyball match being hosted at The College Park Center by the UT Arlington Mavericks Collegiate...


  • Exhibit: Seeing is a Nervous Habit

    09/24/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    A retrospective of Kenda North’s work. The exhibit will be accompanied by a group exhibition of f...


  • Intro to Fishing

    09/24/2017
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Ready to cast your bait and reel in the big fish this summer? Join us for beginning fishing class...


  • DFW Solar Awareness Day

    09/25/2017
    12:00AM

    Hello! We are putting together a day for solar awareness in the DFW area! Talk to your friends...


  • SusieCakes Grand Opening Happy Hour

    09/25/2017
    03:00PM — 07:30PM

    Enjoy the grand opening of SusieCakes in Fort Worth with a week of happy hour deals! Monday 9...


  • Kayaking

    09/26/2017
    09:00AM — 10:30AM

    Take a break from hiking trails and get on the water! We will go out in dual‐seated kayaks along...


  • Exhibit: Seeing is a Nervous Habit

    09/26/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    A retrospective of Kenda North’s work. The exhibit will be accompanied by a group exhibition of f...


  • SusieCakes Grand Opening Happy Hour

    09/26/2017
    03:00PM — 07:30PM

    Enjoy the grand opening of SusieCakes in Fort Worth with a week of happy hour deals! Monday 9...


 

Image title
Mansfield Area High School Sports

Community Champions