Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

As the warmth of spring ushers in longer days and outdoor adventures, it also serves as a timely reminder of the importance of skin cancer awareness. May marks Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a dedicated period for spreading knowledge, promoting prevention, and encouraging early detection of this prevalent yet often preventable disease.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide, affecting millions of individuals each year. It encompasses various forms, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), each with its own characteristics and treatment approaches. While certain risk factors, such as genetics and medical history, play a role in predisposing individuals to skin cancer, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun remains the primary culprit behind its development.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of sun safety practices and regular skin examinations. This month-long observance aims to empower individuals with knowledge about skin cancer risk factors, warning signs, and preventive measures. By raising awareness and fostering proactive health behaviors, we can collectively strive to reduce the incidence and impact of skin cancer.

Promoting Sun Safety: Tips for Prevention

Apply Sunscreen: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and reapply every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.

Seek Shade: Limit direct sun exposure during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and seek shade under trees, umbrellas, or awnings when outdoors.

Wear Protective Clothing: Opt for lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats to shield your skin from UV radiation.

Use Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from UV damage by wearing sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.

Avoid Tanning Beds: Steer clear of artificial UV radiation sources, such as tanning beds and sunlamps, which can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Regular skin examinations are essential for detecting skin cancer in its early stages when treatment is most effective. Perform monthly self-exams to monitor your skin for any changes in moles, freckles, or new growths. Additionally, schedule annual skin screenings with a dermatologist, particularly if you have a history of sun exposure, family history of skin cancer, or numerous moles.

Exploring Skin Cancer Treatment Options

While prevention remains paramount, understanding the available treatment options for skin cancer is equally vital. From surgical interventions to innovative therapies, patients have access to a diverse array of treatments tailored to their specific needs and disease characteristics. Below are some of the primary treatment modalities for skin cancer:

Surgical Excision: The primary treatment for most skin cancers involves surgically removing the tumor and a surrounding margin of healthy tissue to ensure complete removal.

Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to target and destroy cancer cells. It may be employed as a primary treatment for skin cancers that are difficult to surgically remove or as adjuvant therapy following surgery.

Electron Beam Therapy: Electron beam therapy delivers high-energy electrons to the skin surface, precisely targeting superficial skin cancers while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Topical Treatments: Certain superficial skin cancers, such as actinic keratoses, may be treated with topical medications, such as creams or gels, that target and destroy abnormal cells.

Oklahoma Cancer Center offers state-of-the-art electron beam therapy as a promising modality, offering precise and effective targeting of cancerous lesions while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues. This advanced form of radiation therapy utilizes high-energy electrons to penetrate the skin and eradicate cancer cells with pinpoint accuracy.

Unlike traditional radiation therapy techniques, which may pose challenges in delivering adequate doses to superficial tumors without harming adjacent structures, electron beam therapy provides a tailored approach, making it particularly suitable for treating skin cancers. 

By adjusting the energy and depth of the electron beam, healthcare professionals can precisely control the treatment’s reach, ensuring optimal outcomes with minimal side effects. Electron beam therapy is often performed on an outpatient basis, allowing patients to resume their daily activities with minimal disruption.

While Skin Cancer Awareness Month serves as a catalyst for action, our commitment to sun safety should extend far beyond the month of May. By integrating sun protection practices into our daily routines and advocating for skin cancer prevention year-round, we can create lasting change and protect ourselves and future generations from the devastating effects of this disease.

To learn more about skin cancer and treatment options, please call (405) 773-6700 or fill out a web form HERE.

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