Yearly Dermatologist Visit

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I recently had my yearly full body skin check with my dermatologist. Superman went for his the same day because I make him go for a yearly check up as well! I love my dermatologist. I think she does a very thorough job checking for suspicious looking spots. She checks head (love her checking my scalp since it feels like she is playing with my hair!) to toe and in spots that you just can’t check yourself. She uses a little magnifying glass to get a really good look at some spots and she has a nurse in the room with us that charts for her and can quickly look back through the records to see if any spots have changed since my last visit. If she is concerned about a spot, she will do a quick biopsy in the office (if she is able due to the size of the spot). She always asks me if there are any spots I am concerned with or if I have noticed any changes since my last visit. We discuss sun safety and she encourages me to keep checking monthly for any changes I may notice.

I always feel so much better after my check ups with her because she does such a thorough check. I HIGHLY recommend everyone to find a good dermatologist and schedule a yearly full body skin check up. Everyone should do this (in my opinion), but it is extra important to get your skin checked yearly if you have had a family member diagnosed with skin cancer.

 

skincancerfacts dermatologistoffice

I am terrified of skin cancer. Terrified. I am naturally terrified of any type of cancer, but I was absolutely horrible to my skin in my teen years and early twenties. I loved, loved, loved getting tan. I thought the tanner, the better. I would go outside in my backyard and just lay out for hours. I did not use any sunscreen. Instead, I used a tanning spray that was meant to help you get an even deeper tan, faster. I would keep a spray bottle filled with water next to me so I could mist myself while I was laying out…because water attracts the sun and I would tan faster. During my teen years I became addicted to going to tanning salons. I mean addicted. I would go every day some weeks. I did all this because I thought being tan made me look prettier, thinner. I thought it gave me a “healthy glow”.

I am cringing writing this. I don’t believe in living with regrets. However, this is something I wish I could change. I so wish I would not have suntanned or used tanning beds the way I did.

Thankfully, I did stop visiting tanning beds in my early twenties. I became very aware of sun safety. I don’t avoid the sun entirely because Vitamin D is essential and the sun is the best source. But, I am smart about being out in the sun.  I keep an eye on my skin and I visit my dermatologist yearly for full body skin checks. I wear hats a lot if I am going to be in the sun for a good period of time. I make my kids wear hats a lot as well. I try to avoid the sun during peak times of the day. We use lots of sunscreen. You should see how much sunscreen I pack when we go on vacation!

I know some people believe sunscreen is toxic. But, I also think we live in a time where way too many things are labeled toxic. I believe in balance. I have said it before, and I will say it many, many more times. I believe you need to do your research, look at the pros and cons, and ultimately do what you feel is best for you and your family. For me, the fear of skin cancer and my desire to protect myself and my family the best way I can justifies using sunscreen. I love this article I came across at the beginning of summer. The title of the article is Excuse Me While I Lather My Child In This Toxic Death Cream.

SKIN CANCER FACTS AND STATS

The following statistics are found on the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website:

GENERAL

  • Each year in the U.S. over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people.1
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer1than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.2
  • Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.3
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.4
  • Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once.5
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer.6More than 4 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.1,14
  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer.7More than 1 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.1,14
  • Organ transplant patients are approximately 100 times more likely than the general public to develop squamous cell carcinoma.8
  • Actinic keratosis is the most common pre-cancer; it affects more than 58 million Americans.9
  • About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.10
  • The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion: about $4.8 billion for non-melanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma.11

MELANOMA

  • One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 52 minutes).2
  • An estimated 76,380 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016.2
  • An estimated 10,130 people will die of melanoma in 2016.2
  • Melanoma accounts for less than one percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.2
  • The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun. In fact, one UK study found that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.12
  • Melanoma is one of only three cancers with an increasing mortality rate for men, along with liver cancer and esophageal cancer.13
  • The estimated 5-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 98 percent in the U.S. The survival rate falls to 63 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes, and 17 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.2
  • On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.15
  • Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent16and the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.17

TANNING

  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen.18
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in its Group 1, a list of agents that are cancer-causing to humans.  Group 1 also includes agents such as plutonium, cigarettes and solar UV radiation.19
  • As of September 2, 2014, ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices were reclassified by the FDA from Class I (low risk), to Class II (moderate risk) devices.20
  • Twelve states plus the District of Columbia prohibit people younger than 18 from using indoor tanning devices: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas and Vermont. Oregon and Washington prohibit those under 18 from using indoor tanning devices, unless a prescription is provided.21,35
  • Brazil and Australia have banned indoor tanning altogether. Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom have banned indoor tanning for people younger than age 18.22
  • More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning, including about 245,000 basal cell carcinomas, 168,000 squamous cell carcinomas, and 6,200 melanomas.23
  • More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking.23
  • Those who have ever tanned indoors have a 67 percent increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 29 percent increased risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.23
  • Those who have ever tanned indoors have a 69 percent risk of developing basal cell carcinoma before age 40.24
  • Individuals who have used tanning beds 10 or more times in their lives have a 34 percent increased risk of developing melanoma compared to those who have never used a tanning bed.
  • People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.26

So, my PSA to all of you….Love your skin. Take care of it. Be careful in the sun. DO NOT USE TANNING BEDS, PLEASE!!!!! Visit a dermatologist yearly for full body scans. Talk to your dermatologist if a relative has had skin cancer.  Do monthly checks on yourself and partner to keep tabs on your moles and spots.

Take care of yourself friends!!! We are given this one life and one body. Make the most of it by living a healthy life and being proactive about your health. Remember, you are your best advocate when it comes to your health!

What do you do to protect your skin from skin cancer? Share your tips with us in the comments!

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