May – Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know May was National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Awareness Month? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more than five million cases of the disease diagnosed annually in the United States. In a state like Nevada, where the sun is both a friend and foe, these are statistics to pay attention to!

This article will help you understand important tips for preventing skin cancer. How can your Las Vegas dentist, Dr. Hadley, help you stay safer by looking for signs of skin cancer? What is the one thing you can do to help prevent the disease?

The Sun and Your Skin

The skin is an organ, like your heart. In fact, it’s the body’s largest organ, so when skin cancer occurs it’s both alarming – but treatable. In fact, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all the other cancers combined. One in five people will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, and one person dies from melanoma, or cancer of the skin, every hour in the United States.  

The Skin Cancer Foundation says that 90% of skin cancers are caused by our exposure to the ultraviolet rays found in the sun or from tanning beds. The Melanoma Research Foundation says that family history, genetics, and other environmental factors also contribute to the disease.

Skin cancers come in two forms; squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. They differ in appearance, how they spread, and how they are treated. Your dentist and oral hygienist play a crucial role in detecting these diseases early so treatment can be sought.

How Can Dentists Help Detect Skin Cancer?

Skin cancers generally can be treated with a high success rate. What you may not realize is that your dentist and oral hygienist are highly trained in how to spot pre-cancerous or suspicious lesions that could lead to a more serious problem. That’s why an oral exam is such an important part of your twice-yearly checkup.

Dr. Hadley’s team carefully looks for any abnormalities in the appearance of your skin during these check-ups. This is especially important for patients over 50 or people who are heavy users of tobacco products or alcohol.

But in the case of skin cancer, prevention is highly important. What are some of the things you can do to help prevent the disease?

Preventing Skin Cancer

The first thing to note is that tanning is generally a bad idea. Limiting exposure to UV light in the form of the sun’s rays or a tanning bed is important. Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days on all exposed skin surfaces. Look for a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply about an ounce of sunscreen, which is about a shot glass sized amount, about 15-minutes before you go out. Reapply it after swimming or excessive sweating.

Also, wearing cool summer shirts that cover the skin, especially in Nevada, is always a good idea. The sun is strongest between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Try to stay indoors during those times. Above all else, avoid getting sunburn. It’s the number one thing you can do to stay safe in the sun.

When you visit us, please let us know if you’re worried about any suspicious bumps or skin discolorations. We can help you maintain your physical health. Set your checkup today.