Age is a risk factor for skin cancer, but does this put younger people in the clear? The truth is that people of all ages should be taking all types of skin cancer seriously, including melanoma. Here’s what you should know about melanoma risk and prevention.
Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer and is typically caused by sun exposure. The risk of developing melanoma increases as you age, likely due to the risks of prolonged sun exposure. However, young people aren’t immune to this type of skin cancer.
Melanoma is one of the most common types of skin cancer among people between the ages of 20 and 39. This is especially true for women. A family history of skin cancer may increase your risk as well.
The good news is that melanoma is highly treatable if caught early. There is a 93% five-year survival rate for melanoma of all stages, and this rate goes up to 99% for cancerous spots that are detected early. Understanding your risk and scheduling regular skin cancer screenings are key to catching this disease in its earliest stages.
It’s never too early to start taking skin cancer prevention seriously. There are a few key steps that young people can take to spot the signs of skin cancer and protect their skin. Be sure to:
Protect your skin. Whether the weather is sunny or overcast, always apply sunscreen when spending time outdoors. You should also wear protective clothing when possible, as well as a hat. Stick to a product with at least SPF 30, and be sure to reapply every two hours if you’re sweating or swimming.
Say “no” to tanning. Long days at the beach or a quick stop at the tanning salon can be tempting, but this will only increase your risk of melanoma. Self-tanning lotion and spray tans are sun-free ways to get a glow.
Perform self-checks. While you can’t diagnose a skin cancer spot at home, you can perform self-checks in front of the mirror to find suspicious spots. While checking your skin in a well-lit area, look for any new or changing moles, bumps, or areas of skin texture. Persistent skin sores may also be a cause for concern. Call your dermatologist if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
See your dermatologist. In addition to making dermatology appointments when you have a concern, be sure to book appointments at least once per year for skin cancer screenings. Your dermatologist may want to see you more often if you have an increased risk of skin cancer. These screenings can detect signs of skin cancer that you might not notice on your own.
Skin cancer is a risk at any age. By taking sun protection seriously and seeing your dermatologist for routine skin checks, you can stay ahead of your risk and prioritize your skin’s health.
The team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists offers skin cancer screenings and treatments for our patients. Located in Montebello, CA, and other communities in the Greater Los Angeles area, our clinicians provide cosmetic, medical, and surgical services for a variety of skin health needs. We’re also available to discuss your risk factors for diseases like skin cancer, so you can make informed choices for your well-being. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our area locations.