Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. There are more cases of skin cancer than breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer all combined. One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in his/her lifetime. With these high statistics, are we seeing an improvement in skin cancer incidence?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
A 40-year study has found that skin cancer is increasing in the United States. Published last month in the International Journal of General Medicine, the study shows the incidence of skin cancer increased by almost 3% each year. The highest increase is among men, Caucasians, and people over the age of 65 years old.
Skin Cancer in Colorado
While the study did not provide results by state, we know from other studies that skin cancer is more common in the state of Colorado. Two key factors increase risk among Coloradans:
- We live at a higher altitude. The higher the elevation, the closer you are to the sun. You also have less layers of ozone protection against UV rays which cause skin cancer. That explains why pilots are at higher risk of developing skin cancer.
- We have 300+ days of sunshine a year and an active lifestyle. Coloradans love to be outdoors and that means greater cumulative sun exposure over our lifetime.
Prevention of Skin Cancer
Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to lower your risk of developing skin cancer.
- Wear sunscreen. Even if you don’t plan on spending an extended period of time outdoors, make sunscreen a daily part of your morning routine. The cumulative sun exposure over time from driving in your car, brief walks, and running errands can add up. If you haven’t found a sunscreen you like, stop by one of our Vanguard offices. We keep samples and testers on hand so that you can find a sunscreen that you love. We donate 100% of profits from sunscreen sales, so not only do you protect your skin, you help the community.
- Limit UV exposure. We encourage you to enjoy your beautiful outdoors, but when you do, protect yourself. Wear a hat, sunglass, and UV protective clothing. If you’re able to limit exposure between 10 AM – 3 PM (when UV rays are the strongest), then try to do so.
- Treat pre-cancerous spots. We recommend treating precancerous spots called actinic keratosis which are at risk of developing into skin cancer. When you see a dermatologist for your annual skin cancer screening, he or she can help treat these.
Diagnosing Skin Cancer
The good news is that 99% of skin cancer cases are curable if diagnosed early and treated early. At Vanguard Skin Specialists, we believe in early diagnosis and early cure, because that can save lives.
Skin cancer is visible on the skin, so a thorough total body skin exam with your dermatologist can easily detect it. We recommend an annual skin exam, and more frequent for someone who has a history of skin cancer. Most people should start these annual exams by age 35. If you have a personal or family history of skin cancer, then we recommend an exam earlier.
In addition, it is important for patients to examine their skin at home between dermatologist visits. If there is a new or changing mole, then schedule an appointment right away. Here is what to look for during a self-exam.
If you have skin cancer
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, then we will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment will depend on the type of skin cancer that you have and how early it was detected.
The three main types of skin cancer are the following:
Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer claiming one American life every hour. But even with melanoma, it is treatable and curable if detected early.
Vanguard Skin Specialists has built a reputation as the center for skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. With three board-certified and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons who specialize in skin cancer, three plastic surgeons who provide reconstruction following skin cancer, and an onsite dermatopathologist to give a fast and accurate result, Vanguard provides comprehensive skin cancer treatment with the best cosmetic result.
Schedule your Colorado dermatology appointment for a skin cancer exam
Vanguard Skin Specialists has dermatology offices in Castle Rock, Canon City, Colorado Springs, La Junta, Parker, Pueblo, and Woodland Park. To schedule a skin cancer exam with a dermatologist, call 719 355 1585.