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What You Need to Know About Prevention and Early Detection of Skin Cancer

By: Golden State Cancer Centers on May 26, 2016

Summer in Southern California Means Increased Exposure to Sunshine

On average, Southern Californians enjoy nearly 300 days of sunshine each year. While it makes for an enviable climate, those of us who are fortunate to live in greater Los Angeles are unfortunate in the fact that our sunny climate puts us at a much higher risk of developing skin cancer. Plus, now that summer is nearly in full swing, the sun’s rays are at their most powerful, increasing the likelihood of getting a sunburn—which again increases the risk of developing skin cancer.  

Because an estimated 40-50% of Americans are expected to develop skin cancer at least once before the age of 65, it’s crucial to understand the risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing skin cancer, as well as the precautionary steps necessary to limit your risk for melanoma, as well as other types of skin cancer. By understanding skin cancer’s risk factors, it’s possible to adjust your lifestyle and reduce the chances of developing skin cancer.

What are common risk factors that may lead to skin cancer?  
When it comes to developing melanoma or any other type of skin cancer, the single most dangerous risk fact is ultra violet light exposure, resulting in a sunburn. 

Other risk factors include:
The older you are, the longer you have been exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. For example, if you’re 60, and you’ve lived in Southern California your whole life, you have had more exposure than a 25-year-old who has spent their entire life in greater Los Angeles.
Light Skin, Hair or Eye Color
Those with lighter skin, a lighter hair color, and/or a lighter eye color are particularly at risk of developing skin cancer.
Previous Diagnosis of Skin Cancer
Southern Californians who have previously had skin cancer are at a much higher risk of developing a recurring case.
Family History of Skin Cancer
Your family’s medical history may also be indicative an increased risk of developing skin cancer. For instance, if you have a blood relative that has suffered from any type of skin cancer, you are at a higher risk of developing it yourself.
How Can Southern California Residents Prevent Skin Cancer?
While there are no surefire methods that guarantee you won’t develop skin cancer at some point in your life, there are helpful, realistic things that you can do to reduce your risk.
Early Detection
Perhaps the best tool in preventing skin cancer is early detection. By employing regular self-detection practices—such as regularly monitoring moles, lumps, and blemishes for changes or development—you may be able to catch pre-cancerous growths early on and have them removed or treated by a physician.
Likewise, it’s always a good idea to visit a physician for a yearly check-up in order to assess your skin for any new or shifting spots that might indicate a risk for skin cancer.
Avoiding or Reducing Direct Sunlight Exposure and Using UV Protection
While summer is an excellent time to enjoy the great outdoors here in Los Angeles and surrounding communities, you should always be mindful of the sun’s harmful UV rays. By properly protecting your skin with a high SPF sunscreen (above 15), sunglasses, a hat, and/or protective clothing, you significantly reduce the chances of developing cancer-causing sun damage. Tanning, sunbathing, and sunburn put Southern California residents of all ages at high risk of developing sun damage, so be sure to avoid unnecessary sun exposure and to regularly apply and reapply sunscreen whenever you spend time outside.
 Golden State Cancer Centers is committed to bringing advanced cancer treatment options and quality care to Southern Californians diagnosed with a variety of cancers. By combining our breakthrough cancer treatment technologies with our passion and commitment to patient comfort and care, we aim to provide sophisticated, custom tailored cancer treatment programs to patients throughout the San Fernando Valley and beyond.  Contact us online or by calling  818-449-2700 today.