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You've been diagnosed with a skin cancer...now what?!

skin cancer May 20, 2024

CANCER. It's a scary word. And when it comes to skin cancer, the fear is no different. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and this time is dedicated to educating people about skin cancers of all kinds. Understanding the risks, prevention strategies, and early detection methods can make a significant difference in protecting yourself and your loved ones from developing skin cancers.

Did you know that globally, between 2 and 3 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed each year? That's a staggering number, and it means that the chances of being diagnosed with skin cancer are higher than you might think.

What are Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers?

You've probably heard of melanoma, but did you know there are other types of skin cancer that are even more common? Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are the most prevalent among them. Shockingly, these two types alone are more common than all other cancers combined! Despite their prevalence, there's often a lack of support and resources for those diagnosed with these types of skin cancer. And let's not forget about the lesser-known types, like merkel cell carcinomas, sebaceous carcinomas, and extra mammary Paget's disease. People diagnosed with these can feel even more isolated, with fewer resources available to them.

How to Prevent Skin Cancer

1) Sunscreen is your first line of defense against most skin cancers. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher, and apply it generously to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, ears, and hands!

2) Limiting your sun exposure, especially during peak hours between 10am and 4pm, can significantly reduce your risk of sunburns & skin cancer. 

3) Whenever possible, seek shade under trees, umbrellas, or other shelters to minimize direct exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays. Remember that UV rays can penetrate clouds and reflect off surfaces like water, so even on overcast days, it's essential to protect your skin!

4) If you love the look of sun-kissed skin, consider using spray tans and bronzers to achieve that glowing tan safely.

5) Take note of anything new, changing, or simply not healing and let your dermatologist know if something seems amiss. The more often you perform self-skin checks, the more you will get to know your moles and skin lesions, and be able to identify patterns and recognize the ‘ugly duckling!’

Skin cancer doesn't discriminate. It can affect people in many different ways. For some, it might be small and located in non-cosmetically sensitive areas, requiring simple treatments like topical creams or scrapings. But for others, it can be aggressive and require extensive treatment, possibly including surgery and additional therapies. Everyone's journey with skin cancer is unique, and that's why having a supportive community is so important.

Skin Cancer Champions

Skin Cancer Champions is an online forum for those diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancers. It's a place where you can find accurate information, connect with others who are on a similar journey, and feel supported every step of the way. Just like there are communities for breast cancer and other types of cancer, there's now a space for those dealing with non-melanoma skin cancers to come together and share their experiences.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer, remember this: you're not alone. Many people understand what you're going through and are ready to offer support and guidance. It’s important to support each other, share our experiences, and raise awareness. Together, we can make a difference.

Be sure to listen to this week's podcast episode featuring Dr. Emily Ruiz, where we talk about non-melanoma skin cancers, tips for preventing skin cancer, and available treatment options.

A new podcast episode drops every Monday!

For more great skin care tips, subscribe to The Skin Real Podcast.

 

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