If you’re a worrier with a history of skin problems, then “treatment skin cancer” is probably a saved Google search on your toolbar. But googling “treatment skin cancer” every time you think you have an issue is a really good way to drive yourself crazy. (And let’s be honest, “treatment skin cancer” is kind of already defining the problem and skipping about 20 steps in the diagnostic process). We totally understand the instinct. After all, we fear what we don’t understand, and very few of us qualify as a trained dermatologist. Below are a few ACTUAL risk factors for skin cancer and some concrete measures you can take to prevent it:
The Risk: Lots of Moles
We’re not talking about the benign mole you’ve had on your left toe ever since you were a baby. Most people have something like that, and usually it doesn’t present a problem. However, you are at a much greater risk of developing some sort of mole-based skin cancer if you have more than 50 moles on your body.
The Prevention: Oversight
If you’re one of these people with a constellation of moles, then it is very important that you have regular appointments at a dermatologist clinic. A dermatologist can take a mole map of your body and help you keep track of any changes. Changes in moles or an atypical mole is often an early warning sign of skin cancer, and catching it early is very important for treatment.
The Risk: Sun Exposure
Millions of people both with moles and without are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, and most dermatologists point to exposure to UV rays as the single greatest risk factor. Contrary to popular belief,there is NO safe amount of time to be out in the sun, and every sunburn is damaging to your skin even if you can’t see that damage with the naked eye.
The Prevention: Limiting Sun Exposure
This seems obvious, but we would bet that whatever you’re doing on this front now isn’t enough. For example, it’s a good idea to apply sunblock even on a cloudy day, as UV rays can penetrate cloud cover. Pay special attention to areas chronically exposed to sunlight, such as the face, nose, and back of the neck. And of course always wear sunblock and/or protective clothing during the summer months and avoid tanning beds!
The Risk: Family History of Skin Cancer
It turns out that some DNA is more susceptible to cancerous mutation than others, and since DNA is passed down through genes, you are far more likely to be at risk for skin cancer if your relatives are.
The Prevention: Research and Mindfulness
Knowing that skin cancer runs in your family might actually be a blessing in disguise, since it could move you to take other risk factors like the sun more seriously. Ultimately, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their lives, but early detection is vital to a good prognosis, so if you know this is a problem your family struggles with, keep a watchful eye out and have a regular dermatologist in the phone book.