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Skin Cancer on the Rise

Cases of Nonmelanoma Cancers Reach 3.7 Million in U.S.
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Most Accurate Figures to Date continued...

The researchers say their work provides the most accurate figures on skin cancers to date.

"You can't treat a nonmelanoma skin cancer without a positive biopsy, and the number of procedures for nonmelanoma skin cancers is available. So the number of procedures is an excellent proxy for the actual number of cancers," Coldiron says.

Still, some cancers fully removed during biopsies may have been missed, and some cancers that required multiple treatments may have been counted more than once, he says.

Coldiron notes that nonmelanoma skin cancer is a non-reported disease, and there are no available databases from national private insurers.

Tips for Minimizing Skin Cancer Risk

Studies show that "even though people know that overexposure to ultraviolet light can lead to skin cancer, they still tan. We need young people to realize that tanning for cosmetic reasons now will ultimately increase their risk for skin cancer," Coldiron says.

The AAD offers these tips to minimize your risk of skin cancer:

  • Always apply a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to exposed skin when going outdoors.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses when possible. 
  • Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Rule of thumb: If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade. 
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn
  • Avoid tanning beds.Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you've been in the sun, consider using a UV-free self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it. 
  • If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.

Some of these findings were presented at a medical conference and should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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