Page title (background color coded to the topic category) : PTC Cancer Life Phases: Prevention
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Cancer Prevention Measures (from PublicHealth.org)
Skin cancer prevention piece:
Q: What can I do to protect myself from melanoma (skin cancer)?
Published Aug 3, 2014
A: Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. An estimated 5 million people in the United States are treated for the disease annually, and rates continue to rise. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, claiming 9,000 lives in this country each year.
It’s a major public health problem, according to Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH, who last week released a “call to action” to raise awareness about how dangerous yet preventable skin cancer is. “Together, we must communicate the risks in a clear and effective way to family, friends, and others to help them understand their role in preventing skin cancer,” the report reads.
The leading cause of melanoma is ultraviolet radiation, from the sun or artificial sources like tanning lamps and beds, which damages skin cells’ DNA. Some people – including those with fair skin, red or blonde hair, and light-colored eyes – are more vulnerable, but anyone can get melanoma.
Early detection is key. You should visit a dermatologist every year for a checkup, and the National Cancer Institute and American Academy of Dermatology recommend performing a monthly skin self-exam.
There are five indicators for potential melanoma, known as “the ABCDE’s” — A for asymmetrical shape, B for irregular borders, C for different colors, D for a diameter bigger than a pencil eraser, and E for evolving shape, color, or size. If a mole or lesion displays any of these signs, contact a dermatologist immediately.
“Patients need to be part of their own care,” says Gloria Xu, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “They know their bodies and what things usually look like, and that can help the doctor make a diagnosis and catch melanoma before it gets bad.”
Here are some simple preventive measures you can take avoid melanoma in the first place:
- Use sunscreen, and look for a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
- Be careful how much time you spend outdoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
- While outdoors, apply sunscreen every couple of hours and reapply after swimming.
- Wear a hat to shield your face and eyes, and keep your skin covered.
- Avoid tanning beds and lamps, which increase your risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
Prevention of Skin Cancer
Three simple steps to follow
Step #1: Daily Sun Protection
- Use broad spectrum sunscreen daily with SPF of 30 or greater. SeeSunscreen Facts for more information
- Use protective clothing. This is defined as long sleeve shirts with conservative neckline and long pants with a tight fabric weave. Clothing such as this is usually considered by many as very hot, and thus not worn. However, this doesn't have to be the case. Loose, light-weight fabrics can be worn that are protective and stylish. Most clothing provides adequate protection as long as it is worn. The one exception to this may be a white cotton T-shirt, worn by many during the warm seasons, which provides a UPF of only ~5.
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat. Baseball style caps provide no protection for the ears, which is a common area for skin cancer to occur.
- Avoid sun exposure as much as possible between the hours of 10AM and 4PM. Attempt to concentrate outdoor activities into early morning, late afternoon, and evening. If your shadow is shorter than you are, you're likely to sunburn.
- Avoid tanning beds. A tan obtained in a tanning bed does NOT provide protection from harm sunrays.
- Wear sunglasses.
- Seek shade.
- Don't stay in the sun for prolonged periods of time, even if you are wearing sunscreen.
- For more detailed information on each of these sun protective behaviors please check the Sun Smart site (link to http://www.sunsmart.com.au/sun_protection)
Step #2: Monthly Self Skin Examination
In a brightly lit room, with two mirrors, look over your entire skin surface. Do this once a month. A family member may assist with examination of the back, but if they are not consistently available, you can use two mirrors for this exam. (link to http://www.skincarephysicians.com/SkinCancerNet/skin_examinations.html)
Step #3: Timely Skin Examination by a Dermatologist
You should receive at least one complete skin examination by a dermatologist closely after the time of your transplant (within 4 months if possible).
Your physician will then recommend how often you should receive subsequent skin examination. This depends on the number of risk factors for skin cancer, and the amount of skin disease and sun damage that you have. It may range from every month to only as needed (provided that your primary care or transplant physicians were examining your skin on routine yearly exams.)
DISCLAIMER: The content of this TRIO post-transplant cancer Web site is not influenced by sponsors. The site is designed primarily for use by transplant recipients and their supporters. The information contained herein should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other health care provider. The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as offering medical advice. Please check with your transplant team or a physician skilled in cancer and your organ type if you suspect you are ill.