Surgeon General Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is on the rise in the U.S., with almost 5 million Americans diagnosed with some form of skin cancer each year – that’s more than colon, lung, breast and prostate cancer combined. About 9,000 people die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, every year in the U.S. While unprotected exposure to the sun’s rays is considered to be the primary culprit, use of indoor tanning beds also plays a major role, accounting for about 400,000 new cases of skin cancer every year.
In light of the alarming increase in skin cancer cases, the U.S. surgeon general has issued a warning about exposure to UV rays, urging schools, hospitals, government agencies and others to take steps to educate consumers and reduce harmful exposures. To help increase awareness and, hopefully, elicit change, this year the surgeon general and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended five action steps:
- Increase opportunities for sun protection outdoors in recreational, educational and occupational settings.
- Provide people with the information they need to understand the risks and choose healthier behaviors.
- Establish and promote policies that support a national goal of preventing skin cancer.
- Reduce the risks of indoor tanning through education, information and policymaking.
- Strengthen research and health efforts aimed at diagnosing and preventing skin cancer.
Having an annual skin cancer exam (part of step five) is a critical part of protecting yourself against skin cancer, and can help your doctor diagnose cancer before it has a chance to spread. Even aggressive forms of melanoma can be more successfully treated when found early, before they have a chance to spread to other areas of the body. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a hat and sunglasses, using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and avoiding tanning beds as effective steps toward reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Fall is an ideal time for skin cancer screenings: The rush of the holiday season hasn’t begun, and your skin may have developed sun-related changes over the summer such as new or larger freckles or discolored areas. A skin cancer checkup and evaluation can help determine if any of these changes may indicate the earliest stages of cancer.
If you haven’t had a checkup for a year or more, now is the time to make an appointment. Delaying your exam could result in far more serious health issues in the future. Call us today at 212-772-7242 to schedule your exam and evaluation, and take an important step toward protecting your health.