Caution! The risk increaces in sunny weather

I used sunscreen so I can spend the entire day out in the sun… I put sunscreen on my body and my face, this is sufficient… There is no history of skin cancer in my family so I do not have to be that careful. All of these “wrongs” that we think are “right” can lead to serious consequences like getting skin cancer.

800X800_02Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. In fact, according to studies in the U.S. there are 500 thousand new cases of skin cancer every year. The cases of skin cancer that have been increasing each year have become the most common type of cancer among women 25-29 years of age. The nonmelanoma skin cancers that used to occur at advanced ages are now being seen on patients under 40. There are many different reasons for this including sun rays and the thinning ozone layer. Malign melanoma skin cancers are the most dangerous type. Although skin cancer is not as life-threatening as other types of cancer, it is important to have protection from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun and have regular dermatology examinations. Acibadem International Hospital Dermatology Specialist Dr. Hülya Sağlam explained the 8 “wrongs” that are “thought to be right” in our community and made some important suggestions.

1. WRONG: There is no history of skin cancer in my family so I do not need to be careful.

RIGHT: While family history is 10 percent effective in malign nonmelanoma skin cancers, this goes up to 35 percent in malign melanoma. Your personal history is just as important as your genetics in skin cancer. Dermatology Specialist Dr. Hülya Sağlam drew attention to the fact that if you have had sunburn problems on your skin and over 50 moles you have an increasingly higher risk of cancer. “Also the risk of melanoma for people who have gone to an artificial tanning spa once in their lives rises by 75 percent”.

2. WRONG: I don’t think I am exposed to the sun very much, my risk of getting skin cancer is low.

RIGHT: Surveys show that although 50 out of 100 women think they are not exposed to the sun 43 percent were determined to have sunburns. The rate of those who have had over 5 sunburns throughout their life rises to 72 percent and this doubles the risk of getting malign melanoma, one of the most dangerous types of cancer.

3. WRONG: Sun tanning is healthy.

RIGHT: “There is nothing healthy about tanning” warned Dermatology Specialist Dr. Hülya Sağlam and said “This mistake that is made to look thinner and achieve a more homogenous color of skin because of aesthetic concerns is one of the main causes of skin cancer and early aging”.

4. WRONG: I should get plenty of sun to soak up vitamin D.

RIGHT: We should not exaggerate sun exposure to justify tanning. It is enough for any part of the body to be in the sun for 15 minutes so the body can get the needed vitamin D. Staying in the sun any longer is an invitation for skin cancer.

5-WRONG: I put sunscreen on, I can sunbathe all day.

 RIGHT: Applying sunscreen does not mean you can stay under the sun all day because sunscreens are effective for an average of 2 hours. A study showed that although 81 out of 100 people say they use sunscreen 50 percent have had sunburn. This means that a significant portion of the people participating in this survey are using sunscreen insufficiently or incorrectly. Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going out under the sun and should be re-applied on average every 2 hours. You should not neglect to apply it more often at the beach. Even if you are in enclosed areas you should still apply sun protection.

6. WRONG: It is sufficient for me to apply sunscreen to my face and body.

RIGHT: It is important to apply sunscreen to our eye lids, ears, inside of arms, on feet, behind the neck and on hairlines. Spray form sunscreen can be applied to areas of skin with hair especially by people with thinning hair. Also wearing a hat as much as possible provides effective protection.

7. WRONG: I do not need to get dermatology exams on a regular basis.

RIGHT: When we examine ourselves we may not notice problems on our backs, buttocks, back of the neck and genital area. It is very important to get our skin checked once a year by a dermatologist because early diagnosis saves lives. During your exam make sure to share any family history and previous experiences with sunburn and artificial tanning.

8. WRONG: Having moles removed may cause cancer, moles should be left alone!

RIGHT: Contrary to belief removing moles does not cause cancer or existing cancer to spread. Your doctor may want to remove some or all of a mole that they consider to be risky using cryotherapy, ablative laser or surgical methods. A pathology test must be performed for definitive diagnosis.