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Protect the Skin You're In

What's your largest organ? That's right- it's your skin! Remember this guy?! He's all about the it...

I know it's not usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about organs, but this is your first line of defense against all the lovely bugs just waiting to make you sick. This month is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. So we're going to take some time and talk about how we can decrease our risk and what to look for. There are 3 types of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma. You may have noticed that it's Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. Why is Melanoma separated out? Because, it is the deadliest form of skin cancer. We'll tell you about all 3 types, what the risk factors are, how to check yourself/loved ones, and prevention measures to take.

Types: Basal Cell Carcinoma: This type of skin cancer does not *usually* spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body but will invade surrounding tissues. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Again, this is a type of cancer that *most of the time* does not metastasize. The same risks are present in terms of surrounding tissue. When this type of cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, there is not usually any involvement of underlying tissue. Melanoma: This is the most lethal type of skin cancer. Why? It spreads. This means, that the original site may have been the skin, but cancer cells have the ability to travel and deposit elsewhere- lungs, liver, bones, etc. All of these cancers are highly curable, even more so when they are caught and diagnosed early. So lets talk about how to prevent and catch it.

Risk Factors: The biggest factor in developing skin cancer is the exposure to UV (ultraviolet) light (sun, tanning beds) and other forms of radiation. The more you are exposed, the higher your risk becomes. Repetitive sunburns.

That's it folks! Those sunrays are a killer- if the proper precautions are not taken.

So, what would those precautions be? I'm so glad you asked!

Protect Yourself (click here):

Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses outdoors.

There is no safe method of tanning! (That involves a light source). Try a spray or bronzer.

If you will be in the sun for long periods of time, cover up with long sleeves and pants (light weight).

Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher- EVERYONE! Yes- darker skin does provide SOME, read: minimal, protection from UV light, but if you have skin- it can burn. Slap on that sunscreen. How much: 2 tablespoons 30 min before going out and reapply every 2 hours.

How do we know? There's a method of examining your skin to look for possible skin cancers (and you should be sure to check head to toe monthly). Make sure you have someone check areas that you can't see. You'll want to use the ABCDE method. If you see something on your skin ask the following questions:

Is it Asymmetrical? (the same shape on all sides)

Are the Borders irregular? (or is it nice and perfectly round?)

What is the Color? (melanin is a pigment cell, so there will be variations in color. Common colors include brown, black, tan, red, or white)

What is the Diameter? (how big around is it? larger or smaller than a pencil eraser? etc)

Is it Evolving? (is it changing?) For more information and infographics on skin cancer checks, click here.

If the answer is yes to any of these questions (or there is a color other than your normal tone), you'll need to see a dermatologist right away.

If you've been treated for skin cancer in the past, it's very important to see your dermatologist yearly to be examined.

How RNovations can help: RNovations Health is here to help. We provide community health seminars about managing conditions such as diabetes. There we assist people with learning the basics of their disease, medications, and treatments as well as how to make better choices one step at a time. We can help you with medication and nutrition review and counseling, that you can use to manage your health not only during the holidays, but every day thereafter. We also assist with health system navigation so that if you do need services, you are using the most effective mix of services. Give us a call at 804.386.4663 if you want to see how we can be of assistance to you or your group/community. You can also send us an email via the contact us page. We're here for you!

*The information contained above is for educational purposes only. Consult with your physician before making any changes to your diet or treatment regimen. Links provided above do not constitute and endorsement of any organization, rather that the information on the linked page has been verified.

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