It is often said that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. This old saying is one that remains true as far as it relates to the detection and treatment of Melanoma. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, one person dies of melanoma every 52 minutes.
Early detection can decrease your risk of being diagnosed with Melanoma. While prevention is always preferred, the good news is once the condition is detected early in those who have it, and is subsequently treated; the Melanoma has a higher chance of being cured.
Preventing Melanoma: What You Need to Know
Being that the leading known cause of Melanoma is coming in contact with the direct Ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun, limiting one’s exposure is the best place to start with your efforts to prevent Melanoma. In this case, prevention can be as simple (and as difficult) as adjusting your daily habits. Here are Melanoma prevention tips you should practice in your everyday life:
- Staying out of the sun as much as possible, to avoid direct contact with UV rays.
- Avoid using tanning beds to decrease your direct contact with UV rays.
- Wear at least SPF 30 when exposed to the sun and reapply every 1-2 hours.
- Raising your level of self-awareness by regularly inspecting your own skin as best as possible for any apparent abnormalities. (Monthly self-examinations of moles.)
- Everyone should have their skin checked by a dermatologist at least once a year.
- Wear protective clothing, like hats, and seek shade during the midday peak sun hours.
While the tips above can help decrease your exposure to Melanoma, there are numerous causes that cannot always be prevented. For example, people with a family history of Melanoma have a higher likelihood of getting it. There is also an increased risk for people who possess a genetic predisposition to Melanoma, such as people who are fair-skinned, blonde and blue-eyed or people who have red hair.
Getting Involved: Raising awareness in May
May is all about Melanoma and skin cancer prevention, detection, treatment and of course, general awareness. There is much you can do to raise your own level or awareness about the disease, as well as the awareness of others. For example, you can:
- Encourage accountability at the level of the family, so that family members can encourage each other to wear sunscreen and limit the times spent in the sun
- Help build awareness through schools and the formal education systems. By equipping and encouraging teachers and administrators to pass on the necessary information about Melanoma to their students.
- Organize health fairs and/or events focused on sharing information about Melanoma with your community.