Skin Cancer - Most Common Malignancy in the United States.
Caucasians are the primary patients diagnosed with skin cancer. Many people do not believe that non-Caucasian people are at risk. As a consequence skin cancer in Skin of Color is under diagnosed, outcomes are poor for these patients and poor skin cancer preventative care is practiced. Everyone regardless of ethnicity is at risk for skin cancer. Often people of color are diagnosed with skin cancer at later stages. This results in skin cancers in Skin of Color often being advanced and potentially fatal.
The most common skin cancers are Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) and Melanoma. These skin cancers are most commonly caused by UV rays from the sun damages the DNA in the skin and lead to cancer. This is why UV protection with the use of sunscreen daily is important. Squamous cell carcinoma which is the most common cancer seen in those with African descent can also be caused by chronic inflammation in areas of trauma, scar, burns, discoid lupus. Melanoma is most deadly of these skin cancer has increasing rates in Skin of Color. Well-known reggae artist Bob Marley actually died from Melanoma found on his toe that moved to his lungs not from smoking as is commonly believed. Melanoma can be found on sun-exposed areas and on palms and soles, particularly in Skin of Color.
So careful monitoring by patient through self-skin examination and by a physician is important along with daily sun protection with sunscreen and sun protective clothing.
How Does Sunscreen Work?
View this video
for a look at how sunscreen works to prtoect our skin from sun damage.
Quick Tips: Skin Cancer Prevention and Sun Protection
- Do regular skin examinations and report any new and/or changes of existing skin lesions to your doctor
- Use sunscreen with BROAD SPECTRUM (UVA and UVB) protection with SPF greater than 30, regardless of complexion
- Key ingredients in sunscreen: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Avobenzone, Oxybenzone
- Apply sunscreen 30 mins before sun/daylight exposure
- Reapply at least every 2hours. Sooner if in water
- Wear sunglasses with UV-absorbing lenses
- Wear sun protective clothing with UPF 30 or more
- Avoid tanning booths
- Wear sunscreen with SPF every day
- Sun damage can happen even in the car while driving.
- Children can use sunscreen from 6 months of age.
Terms You Should Know
What Are UVA and UVB?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is part of the light spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun. It has wavelengths shorter than visible light, making it invisible to the naked eye. Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the longer wave UV ray that causes skin Aging, and can cause skin cancer. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is the shorter wave UV ray that causes burns, and can cause skin cancer.
Sunscreens contain ingredients that help prevent the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens have varing ability to protect against UVA and UVB.
What is SPF ( sun protection factor)?
SPF is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. For example, SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all UVB rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent. Note this is only UVB.
So it important to have sunscreen with ingredients to protect against UVA rays as well. Like Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Avobenzone, Oxybenzone.
What is Broad-Spectrum?
Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF)
Is fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate the fabric. For example, UPF of 50, lets just 1/50th of the sun’s UVR reach the skin, compared to, say, an everyday white cotton T-shirt, which has a UPF of only about 5.
Sunscreen Products & Sun Protective Clothing
Review the recommendations at Skincancer.org
for a thorough list.