LCHM Spring 2017 - 17

L C M E D S O C .O R G


ach year, more than 2 million people are diagnosed
with skin cancer in the United States. Many of these
people are diagnosed with more than one skin cancer
in a year. It is currently estimated that one in five
Americans will develop skin cancer at some time in their lives,
and one in 50 Americans will develop melanoma, the deadliest
type of skin cancer. Particularly worrisome is the increasing rate
of skin cancers in children and young adults. Melanoma is the
most common cancer in young adults (25-29 years old) and the
second most common cancer in adolescents/young adults (15-29
years old). Melanoma rates have increased by 6.1 % annually in
Caucasian women under the age of 44. Over the last 30 years,
the rate of melanoma has increased by 2% per year in Caucasian
children (newborn-19 years old). Early detection and prevention
are essential for increasing survival and reducing the number of
new cases of skin cancer.
Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure (sunlight, tanning beds) is
a major risk factor for developing skin cancer and the most
preventable. Daily use of sunscreen can significantly reduce the
risk of skin cancer. A broad spectrum sunscreen (protects against
UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of 30 or higher is recommended
for everyday use. If extended outdoor activities are planned, use
of a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of
30 or higher is recommended. One ounce (2 tablespoons) of
sunscreen should be applied to the entire body (including the
ears, neck, tops of the feet, and top of the head) 30 minutes prior
to going outside and reapplied every 2 hours or after swimming
or excessive sweating. Keeping the skin covered with protective
clothing (wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts, and
pants), seeking shade, and avoiding the outdoors during peak sun
hours (10 A.M.-2 P.M.) are also ways to minimize exposure to
harmful ultraviolet light rays. These rays are present 365 days a
year; if there is light, damaging ultraviolet rays are present. 




Avoiding tanning beds is also extremely important for keeping
the skin healthy; there is no such thing as a safe tan. There is
nearly a 60% increased risk of melanoma in those who have used
indoor tanning equipment. Current Pennsylvania law prohibits
the use of tanning beds in those under the age of 17, and more
than 35 other states have passed laws in recent years to limit
youth access to indoor tanning.


In addition to prevention, early detection is key to increasing
survival. Regular self-monitoring of the skin by checking for new
growths or spots that are changing in size, shape, or color can

help identify skin cancer early. Skin cancer can occur anywhere
on the body. When checking the skin, be sure to examine the
not-just-sun-exposed areas, but also the scalp, genitalia, palms,
soles, and spaces between the toes. Ask someone to help examine
hard to see areas. If a spot of concern is found, an appointment
with a dermatologist should be made. Individuals with a history
of melanoma, other types of skin cancer, or a family history of
skin cancer should be seen at least annually by a dermatologist
for a full-body exam. During the exam, the dermatologist will
look over the skin from head to toe. A special magnifying light
called a dermatoscope is often used to help see a spot or lesion
in greater detail. At times, the dermatologist will lightly palpate
(touch) the skin to feel for lumps or bumps under the skin. If
a suspicious lesion is found, then a skin biopsy of the lesion is
usually performed at that time.

Americans will develop
skin cancer in their lifetime.
Continued on page 18

SPRING 2017 | Lehigh County Health & Medicine 17


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LCHM Spring 2017

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