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Skin Cancer Safety and Warning Signs

Published on May 11, 2023

While it might be true that sunshine on our shoulders makes us happy, the sun is also the number one cause of premature skin aging. UVA and UVB rays from the sun also lead to skin damage on a cellular level that causes cell mutation and eventually skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. Just five sunburns in a lifetime double your chances of developing melanoma.

Though we need some daily sun exposure to produce the vitamin D our bodies need, studies show that only 8 to 10 minutes of sun exposure in the winter and 3 minutes per day in the summer, is all that’s necessary to produce enough vitamin D. 

It’s important to understand that sunburns alone don’t cause skin cancer—even what we think of as a “healthy tan” is actually sun damage that can have a detrimental effect on the skin, including causing skin cancer and premature wrinkling, sagging, and sunspots. A Phoenix skin cancer attorney can help navigate your legal options if you may have been negatively affected by a misdiagnosed case.

What is Skin Cancer?

Healthy skin cells grow, divide, die, and replace themselves in an efficient, orderly manner. When skin cells are damaged on a DNA level by UV rays, they may begin to grow and divide irregularly or haphazardly, resulting in skin cancer. Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth and reproduction of skin cells, forming cancerous lesions or tumors on the skin. 

Skin cancer is divided into two types, melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancers. Melanoma is a malignant cancer that spreads from the skin to other organs in the body, resulting in a terminal condition if not caught and treated in the early stages. Non-melanoma skin cancers may be disfiguring but are rarely terminal. Non-melanoma skin cancers include:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Merkel Cell Cancer

Malignant melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancers, but over 99% of skin cancer deaths.

Skin Cancer Warning Signs

It’s important to familiarize yourself with your own skin and perform regular self-checks as well as yearly skin checks with a dermatologist. Some common warning signs to look for include:

  • Any change in the shape, size, or color of a mole (remember ABCDEs: Asymmetry, Borders, Color, Diameter, Evolving)
  • A new mole or unfamiliar spot on the skin
  • A sore that won’t heal
  • A persistently sore, itchy spot on the skin
  • A rough red or scaly spot
  • A scar-like growth with defined borders
  • A raised growth with a scabbed or bleeding center 
  • A smooth, shiny red or flesh-colored bump on the skin’s surface
  • Wart-like growths

If you notice any of these warning signs, see a dermatologist as soon as possible.

How to Practice Sun Safety

Protect your skin from damaging UVB and UVA rays every day, not only when you plan a day at the beach or pool. By using a daily sunscreen on your exposed skin even on cloudy days and in the winter, you can greatly reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. On days that you plan to be outdoors for more than 30 minutes, use a broad-spectrum, SPF 30 sunscreen and/or lightweight, loose-fitting clothes. Protect your head with a hat, preferably one with a sunshade. Some other tips for sun safety include the following:

  • Avoid sun exposure between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM whenever possible
  • Seek the shade as often as you can while outdoors
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours and always after towel drying
  • Use about a shot-glass-sized amount to cover all exposed skin areas on a typical day in beachwear
  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet, ears, and the back of your neck
  • Use a lip balm with sunscreen while spending time outdoors
  • Snow magnifies the sun as much as sand and water so it’s important to protect exposed skin during the winter

By staying vigilant about sun protection and regularly checking your skin for changes, you’re less likely to develop skin cancer and far more likely to catch it early if you do experience a cancerous growth.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the benefits of sun protection far outweigh any chemical risks associated with sunscreen products, even for children.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.