What Your Mother Never Told You About Skin Cancer

May 15, 2019
No matter what else Mother told us, she surely didn’t say, “Get naked in front of somebody at least once a year.” Yet of all the tips she could have passed on, this might have been the most effective. An annual skin cancer screening – a quick, thorough “skin scan,” from a skin professional – is too often the missing piece in a person’s defense against the most common form of cancer there is. Skin cancer is by far the leading form of the dread disease, with 4.3 million cases reported in the U.S. every year. Don’t let modesty kill you. Besides, we exaggerated. People keep their undies on all the time in a skin cancer screening and it’s still a life saver. Self-examinations through the year are an excellent idea, too, especially after your board-certified dermatologist has briefed you on what to watch for. But, as someone once said, “Are you going to bet your life on your own ability to tell the difference between a mole, or a cyst, or a bump, or a zit, and a deadly melanoma? A friend of ours recently remarked that the spot he most wanted to show his doc proved to be of no interest, but she zoomed in on three areas he had not suspected at all. The professional eye is going to see things differently, because of a lot of education and a lot of experience. What if She Told You Nothing? Many of us never heard a word about skin cancer as we grew up. Even though far more people spent their lives outdoors a few decades ago, the reported cases of skin cancer then were much fewer than today. Even since 1999, reported cases of a particularly deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, have doubled, from 40,000 a year in 1999 to 80,000 in 2015, the latest year for which stats are complete. Why so little talk about it, way back in a world where people worked outdoors? And why such an alarming increase in a world where life takes place in front of computer and mobile screens? When work for most people was outdoors, we had evolved defenses against the harm that the sun can do. These defenses were so simple and so common that we weren’t even aware of their purpose most of the time. Hats and sleeves were a couple of these. Farmers and real cowboys were never seen without them. Construction workers never showed up in shorts in those days, and long sleeves were the norm, even in summer. We could use a couple of lessons from what people then took for granted. New Measures for Today Other defenses may have gone unmentioned by Mom because they hadn’t been developed yet when she was growing up. Sun screen might be the biggest of these new defenses. Surely, it must be the easiest to use. And, yet, still too many people are tardy in adopting sunscreen and making it a daily routine. We’d be glad to serve as your guide to develop a skin cancer defense that works for you. Let’s start with that baseline screening. Just contact us to schedule yours.

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