Although there are several effective treatments for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, the probability of successful outcomes increase considerably with early detection. Survival rates for melanoma drop significantly with growth of the primary tumor or spread to local lymph nodes (Balch 2009). Regular skin self-examinations can aid in detecting skin cancers early when they are easier to treat. It is important to inspect the entire skin surface for suspicious lesions. For non-melanoma skin cancers, look for new growths, spots, bumps, or non-healing sores, especially in areas exposed to sunlight. For melanoma, the ABCDE rule (refer to “Signs and Symptoms” section) (ACS 2013b) is a useful guide to identifying signs of possible melanoma. It is important to remember that these characteristics are a guideline, and not every melanoma follows these rules (Dunki-Jacobs 2013). Any suspicious skin lesion should be referred to a qualified health care professional for further evaluation.
Reduce UV Exposure
UV radiation is a risk factor for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, and reducing sun exposure can mitigate this risk. This includes minimizing time spent outside during peak sun hours; heeding the National Weather Service’s daily UV index; and wearing long sleeves, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats (Jou 2012). The use of sunscreen has been generally recommended, although few studies have examined its efficacy in the reduction of skin cancer risk. It is important to remember that potential benefits of sunscreen are negated if it causes the user to increase time spent in the sun (Etzkorn 2013).