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Skin Cancer Prevention

Sun and Fun? Let’s Play It Safe!

That time of year is upon us once again. We are pushing the winter months out of our mind and setting our eyes on sun and fun!

While the warmth weather brings us barbeques, swimming, fishing, and many more outdoor sports, it can also seal your fate.

A sun made with suncream at the shoulder

How?

By being outside in the sun without protecting yourself from the harmful UV rays. That’s right; I’m talking about preventing skin cancer!

Did you know that everyone, regardless of skin color, can sunburn? In fact, a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the following sunburn rates in each of the listed ethnic groups:

African Americans

  • Males reporting one sunburn in the preceding year: 5.8%
  • Females reporting at least one sunburn in the preceding year:  5.8%
  • Reporting less that >4 sunburns in the preceding year:  12.3%

Hispanics (dark-skinned)

  • Males reporting one sunburn in the preceding year:  12.4%
  • Females reporting at least one sunburn in the preceding year:  9.5%
  • Reporting less that >4 sunburns in the preceding year:  19.1% (light-skinned)

Asian/Pacific Islander

  • Males reporting one sunburn in the preceding year:  16.2%
  • Females reporting at least one sunburn in the preceding year:  16.1%
  • Reporting less that >4 sunburns in the preceding year:  15.5%

American Indian/Alaskan Natives

  • Males reporting one sunburn in the preceding year:  30.4%
  • Females reporting at least one sunburn in the preceding year:  21.5%
  • Reporting less that >4 sunburns in the preceding year:  19.6%

And here’s yet another lil tidbit for you. Do you remember Bob Marley? The big-time Reggae musician? Yes, he died from Melanoma skin cancer. So please don’t think, just because you aren’t Caucasian, that you can’t get skin cancer.

So how does one prevent getting skin cancer?

  • • Stay out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm or if not possible, limit your time and be sure to wear sunblock
  • • Don’t burn
  • • Avoid tanning beds and booths!
  • • Cover yourself up, including a brimmed hat (face protection) and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day, even in the winter.
  • • Reapply sunscreen or sunblock every two hours and if swimming, be sure to wear a waterproof product
  • • Exam your skin monthly or more so, if you are a skin cancer survivor
  • • See your physician every year for skin exam

 

There are many different types of skin cancers (as described via SkinCancer.org)

  • Actinic Keratosis – a scaly or crusty growth (lesion). It most often appears on the bald scalp, face, ears, lips, backs of the hands and forearms, shoulders, neck or any other areas of the body frequently exposed to the sun.

 

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma – abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). BCCs often look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars.

 

  • Dysplastic Nevi – (atypical moles) are unusual benign moles that may resemble melanoma.

 

  • Melanoma – The most dangerous form of skin cancer, these cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.  These tumors originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. Melanoma kills an estimated 8,790 people in the US annually.

 

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers (the epidermis). SCCs often look like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression, or warts; they may crust or bleed. SCC is mainly caused by cumulative UV exposure over the course of a lifetime. It can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly if allowed to grow.

 

Lastly, the subject of skin cancer prevention is near and dear to my heart as I am a skin cancer survivor and continue to look out for more potential cancers. A few years ago I was diagnosed with a basal cell carcinoma which gave me scare enough to wear sunblock 365 days per year. It left me with a quarter sized scar on my forehead, which I know call my “third eye”.

 

Before - Size of a eraser tip

Before – Size of a eraser tip

(After) Diagnosis – Basal Cell Carcinoma

After – Size of a dime (Check the hair line)

 

Diagnosis – Basal Cell Carcinoma

I also have a few “near misses” with melanoma moles, which of course, were diagnosed by removal of the moles and biopsies.

Diagnosis – Precancerous – moderate premelanoma

Before

Diagnosis – Precancerous – moderate premelanoma

After – About 3.5” long

Diagnosis – Precancerous – moderate premelanoma

  

Even after watching my best friend die from Melanoma, I continued to use tanning beds and go outside in the sun unprotected. Until I was delivered that first scare, I thought “It won’t happen to me.”

So I ask you to PLEASE do not be a statistic. Cover up, protect yourself as well as your loved ones, and live a healthy life.

Oh, and don’t forget! Your animals can get skin cancer as well!

Now over to you, have you ever had a skin cancer “scare” or are you currently undergoing treatment?

 

Always, Bren

About Bren

Smart, Sassy, over 40 gal who talks about REAL nitty gritty girly stuff with a splash of Wordpress & Social Networking tips! Keep up with me on the web!

23 comments

  1. I am surprised after reading ur post Maa’m . I didnt know that there could be so many types of scin cancer :( I’ll try following ur prevention tips from now onwards. very very imformative post! Thanx!
    Aashish Sahni recently posted…Turn your Android Phone Camera Into A Webcam For Pc/Laptop. TRY!!My Profile

  2. Hi Bren, I’m so sorry you had to go through basel cell surgery on your face. It’s a harsh price to pay for the ignorance of youth, isn’t it? But perhaps that scar is really a life saver in disguise, helping you avoid the worse diagnosis of melanoma that your best friend unfortunately faced.

    I played tennis a lot as a teenager and moved to Florida after school. My Northern European heritage caught up with me and I have had some basel cells removed too. Not fun!

    I am super careful myself now, staying out of the sun at peak times, using the highest SPF sunscreen I can find and visiting the dermotologist semi-annually. The best part about my dealings with skin cancer is that I have taught my girls well to be careful of the sun!
    Carolyn recently posted…Send to Kindle — eRead (Almost) AnythingMy Profile

  3. Hey Bren,

    As I had mentioned over on your blog that my Mom has dealt with this three times in her life. I was always a sun worshiper and never used lotion when I was younger. I was always out at the pool or outside playing. It was never something my Mom made me do nor was I even aware that you could get skin cancer.

    I will knock on wood when I say this but I’m now in my mid 50′s and have never had it and I quit the sun probably about 13 years ago. I was so over boiling to death to get a tan. Oh my goodness, the things I use to do.

    Now cancer definitely runs in my family on both sides so I do the best to take care of myself in my later years and continue to pray that it will never knock on my door. So far God is on my side! :-)

    I’m so glad that you caught it early and continue to pay close attention. Because of my Mom I’m well aware of what to look for myself.

    Just good to know that you’re doing okay!

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…The Death of TweetDeck v0.38.2My Profile

  4. Bren, what a great informative post. So glad you are okay and found it early on. I’ve had several friends back when we were in our 30′s with skin cancer and were lucky to have found it early on as well. My dad still has spots he has removed at the age of 85. He had found some back in his earlier 70′s and goes yearly to the dermatologist. I did burn when I was younger and use to cover myself with baby oil at the beach, imagine that? I wear sunscreen all the time too on my face and must buy some more very soon.
    Great timing of this post as it’s getting sunnier and warmer out Bren. I’m sure you have helped others out with this knowledge. Thanks for the reminder for myself to get some more sunscreen.
    Lisa recently posted…Plug-In Happy – Are Plug-Ins Really Magical?My Profile

    • Hi Lisa! Didn’t we all do that baby oil and silly stuff back then, trying to get the deepest tan possible? Yeah, well most of us did and probably more than half have or will deal with some kind of skin cancer in their lifetime. Sorry to hear about your father. I hope his dermatologist catches them in time. It’s really scary to deal with as a younger person who has their whole life to live. The doc says Cancer and instantly “we’re dying” just like with my mammo scare, ya know. I was going to do a skin cancer post on MGP but when Cynthia asked me to guest, I figured, what better timing.

      Thanks for sharing my friend!

  5. Hi Heather,

    I have a doctor note on file for Madyson abot sunscreen. She burns. The school told me they could not be responsible without a note so a note they got. She gets sprayed twice a day even in the winter.
    cynthiatw recently posted…Mother’s Day Brunch On A BudgetMy Profile

  6. Hi Bren,

    I started following Richly Middle Class from your blogs…good to see you here lady!

    Thanks for sharing this important information Bren. Skin cancer runs on my hubby’s side and this is great to know for my kids. My daughter is in the sun a lot being on the dance team and I’m always making sure to get her sunblock but you reminded me to look at her make-up to make sure it includes it for her face.

    We all feel that we will be the ones to beat the odds of cancer until the scare happens to us, right? I’m glad you shared your experience with us so we can snap out of that state and start taking care of ourselves.

    I also didn’t know my furbabies can get skin cancer. I’m glad mine are indoors and I have them an outdoor schedule to protect them from heat and mosquito bites. Now I have another reason to tell my hubby and kids why I treat them like babies :)

    Great post girlfriend!
    Corina Ramos recently posted…15 Reasons Why I Love Working From HomeMy Profile

    • Hi Corina! Sorry to hear about your hubs side of the family. Hopefully no serious cancers. Ahh yes, your daughter. Teach em young and hopefully they won’t make the same mistakes I did. I think we all feel we are invincible until we are slapped in the face with it. Thankfully mine wasn’t fatal yet there is still a melanoma chance in my future. I can’t undo the damage done but I can prevent any future new possibilities. Oh yeah, don’t forget the furbabies. I did a post a while back on Pibbles that I’ll have to revisit. My boy gets sunblock on his nose and ears and his time limited.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Hi Corina,

      Thank you so much for coming over to visit. I appreciate the follow. Bren is amazing. I could not believe all the information that I learned from her today. I did not know that our special family members could get skin cancer either. My child is really fair and burns so I have to put sunscreen on her all the time. What I was surprised about was that I could be vulnerable as well. I never put anything on me but I will start.
      cynthiatw recently posted…Are You Among the Walking Dead?My Profile

  7. What great advice Bren! I am very light skinned and always wear my sunblock when I’m out in the sun. Except in the winter like you mention. I’ve had some scary stuff before, but not really sure what they were. Thanks for sharing!
    Ann Staub recently posted…World’s Best Cat LitterMy Profile

    • Hi Ann! My dermatologist highly recommends sunblock year-round. The sun in the winter can be just as damaging however usually we are covered more by clothing. We can’t ever forget the face, neck, and ears and if at all possible the scalp. I’ve seen some horrid pics of skin cancers on the head. Oh my! Don’t forget about Shiner and your kitties as well! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Hi Bren, and welcome to Cynthia’s blog :)

    This is such an important topic for everyone. I guess it’s close to my heart because any form of cancer is bad….and I say that more so because I lost my mom to lung cancer.

    Speaking of skin cancer, I didn’t know you went through all of it, though am sure glad everything is fine now…but it must have scared you a great deal. The word ‘cancer’ itself can send shivers up one’s spine! I totally agree with you about taking these precautionary measures as prevention is better than cure. I’ve even heard that we should use sunscreen even if we are sitting right inside our house as the rays can even affect us indirectly that ways. I don’t do that, but after reading your post – it’s better than one does.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Have a nice week ahead, both of you :)
    Harleena Singh recently posted…How to Boost Self Esteem in 8 Simple WaysMy Profile

    • Hi Harleena! Yes, any kind of Cancer is horrific in my eyes. I’ve lost many friends and family to cancers and it’s just a devastating way to go. My scare was one that I wasn’t ready for that’s for sure. But it brought me awareness of how harmful the sun’s rays are as well as tanning bed…although a lil too late. Now I protect myself and spread awareness about human skin cancers as well as animals.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  9. Bren! You mentioned you were doing a guest post, but I completely forgot. I had no idea this was your post until the very end, at which point my jaw dropped. Holy crap, woman! I had no idea you’d dealt with skin cancer.
    My mother has been dealing with skin cancer for a few years, and I’ll be lucky to dodge that bullet. In my young-and-foolish days, I used to slather myself with baby oil or Coppertone 4 and lie out in the late-morning to early-afternoon sun. I was seeking a tan. All I ever got was burn after burn – some of them really bad. I became very familiar with the use of tea bags to “draw out the heat,” Noxzema, cold wash cloths, and sometimes I just had to go to bed with a couple aspirin in my belly because I was hurting so badly.
    Foolish, foolish younger me. I spent some time in the sun yesterday, but it was after 4:00, and I was covered, save for a slightly scooped neckline. I have freckles from the exposure, but the sun wasn’t strong enough to burn me – I wouldn’t haven’t been out in it, otherwise.
    Great article about the importance of using sunscreen and/or covering up – no matter your skin tone! xoxo
    Ellen M. Gregg recently posted…The Glass Is Rising Very HighMy Profile

    • I’m just full of surprises Ellen! :) I’m very sorry to hear about your mother. Doe she live by prevention now? As you, in my early years, society made you feel like you were a leper if you didn’t have a tan… or at least a burn. Laying out in the sun, slathering on the bad gunk like you, and tanning beds, did all this damage to me now. And yes, the fear of learning you may have a fatal skin cancer will rock your world. The pain of the surgeries as well and the scaring can also put an emotional toll on you. I’ll never forget the first time I unbandaged my forehead to see this gaping hole that took and eternity to grow new skin cells. I cried and cried every time I looked at the hole. It’s now a scar the size of a quarter but I can embrace it now. It’s a battle scar that I proudly show off to others when I share my story.

      I pray you never get a scare. Something about us light-skinned, freckly girls and the sun. Ugh, it’s just not worth it. Thanks for stopping by and sharing Ellen!

  10. This is a real eye opener. I did not realize that darker skinned people could burn as well. Never had a cancer scare, but, I have very fair skin and had some nasty sunburns as a child, so I stay out of the sun as much as possible. In addition to burning me it also gives me a headache and freckles, well age spots now.
    Skin cancer must have been a terrible ordeal for you, Bren. My best client died of malignant melanoma when she was only 57. What a heartbreak! :-( Glad you had a better outcome!
    Debbie recently posted…REGRETS – I’VE HAD A FEWMy Profile

    • Hi Debbie! I was under the assumption on “white” folks got skin cancer. Boy did it open my eyes to hear about Bob Marley and other “darker skin” folks that can get it as well. I’ve had too much sun damage over the years so I’m definitely not out of the woods yet. I go every 6 months for check ups as well as check myself daily for new, suspicious looking lesions and moles. Definitely no fun :(

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us!

    • Whoops, btw, so sorry to hear about your friend. It’s a terrible way to go, as I know watching my bf go in her 50′s as well.

  11. Cynthia,

    Thank you so very much for asking me to guest on Richly Middle Class today. At first I was at a loss of what to write about but with May being Skin Cancer Awareness month and my never ending battle with skin cancers, I thought this was a perfect opportunity!

    I only hope by sharing my experiences that others will realize, ANY ONE can get skin cancer and it can be fatal. Wearing sunscreen 365 days for year isn’t fun but it’s a lot better than the alternatives! ;)

    Thank you again gf! Muwah!

    • Hi Bren,

      Thank you so much for doing the post. I was really surprised by some of the facts as well. For example being black, I never think about the need for sunscreen. I always thought that my dark skin meant I was less likely to get cancer. I will definitely spend more time protecting myself this summer.
      cynthiatw recently posted…April is the Month of the Military ChildMy Profile

      • Hi Bren. Great and informative article on Skin Cancer Prevention. Over the years I have been completely irresponsible with protecting my skin from the sun. It’s only been in the past few years since I’ve had children that I’m much more diligent about it. As a result of my concern to be tan when I was younger, I have a lot of sun spots and moles (and more surface as I get older) that I get checked every year – it’s called a body mapping and it’s covered by insurance. If you’ve never had one, I highly recommend it no matter what color your skin. I was also told that bi-racial children have a higher likelihood of getting skin cancer as they get older, so I try and be as diligent as I can with spraying and respraying sunscreen on them when we are out and about in the summer.

        Heather
        Heather T recently posted…Weekend InspirationMy Profile

    • Hi Heather! So glad you are doing prevention, especially with your children. I’ve heard of that body mapping althought I’ve never had it done. I get full body screenings by my dermatologist every 6 months and screen myself almost daily for anything new and unusual. I used to be very paranoid about going out in the sun for the first year after my first diagnosis. Turned into a bear hibernating yet during the summer. Eeek! Bad! Thankfully, I do wear sunblock daily and limit my exposure especially during peak time. I tell ya, once you get one bad diagnosis, it freaks you out for the rest of your life.

      Thanks for sharing with us!

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