May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, so Dr. Robert Conry,
Dr. Robert Conry, oncologist at the Clearview Cancer Institute Anniston location, offered tips about how to use your sun sense.
“Skin cancer is almost entirely caused by the sun,” said Dr. Conry. “The most dangerous type of skin cancer is melanoma, which is the more darkly pigmented skin cancers. Those have a high tendency to spread to other parts of the body and become life threatening.”
Melanoma is caused more by high level acute sun exposure such as a sunburn and blistering sunburns especially.
“It’s especially dangerous if they happen in early life like childhood and young adulthood,” said Dr. Conry. The more common cancers are squamous cell and basal cell skin carcinoma. “Those are caused more by cumulative sun exposure like farmers who are out in the sun every day, or roofers or construction workers.
Dr. Conry suggests practicing good sun sense year round, including:
- Avoid high level sun exposure
- Wear hats when outside
- Avoid the sun during peak sun exposure times, approximately 11am-2pm
- Wear sunscreen, 30 SPF or better
Dr. Conry also suggests that people see a dermatologist once a year to ensure good skin surveillance and have anything biopsied that’s worrisome. “If you see a changing mole or changing skin lesion or something symptomatic like pain, itching or bleeding, those should be looked at by the dermatologist immediately.”
Even though melanoma can be dangerous, Dr. Conry says when caught early, it can be highly curable.