Southern California provides endless opportunities for fun in the sun: surfing, swimming, skiing, boating, hiking, biking, golfing, and just about anything else you can do outdoors. That’s one reason we all live here, right? Unfortunately, all of this time spent outdoors is inviting another unwelcome guest to come to the party — skin cancer.
Since Dr. Malamet uses Mohs surgery to remove skin cancers and also removes moles, both suspicious and innocuous, it’s good to know some facts about skin cancer. See if you know this stuff.
UVA vs. UVB or both?
Sunscreens can be confusing, but once you understand a couple of things they’re easy. You need a sunscreen labeled “broad based” or for “both UVA and UVB rays.” When the first sunscreens were invented in the 50s, the thinking was that only UVB rays were dangerous, as those are the rays that affect the epidermis. UVB rays cause sunburns. But now we know that UVA rays are doing their damage from below the skin surface. They penetrate into the dermis, the skin’s second layer, causing skin aging and the beginnings of melanoma and other skin cancers. So, while UVA rays don’t make you peel, they could be doing even worse things in the dermis.
How much is SPF needed?
SPF is an area of confusion, much of it on purpose by fraudulent companies. People think that the more SPF, the better, and they pay through the nose for it. But the reality is that over an SPF of 30, the difference is only a couple percent in the sun blocking ability. Those SPFs that claim 50 and higher are probably just gouging you at the cash register. Why? Because there isn’t any possible higher SPF than 50.
If you get skin cancer, you die.
Although it is the most common cancer worldwide, skin cancer isn’t the biggest killer. Most skin cancers, if detected early enough, are all treatable with surgery. That’s why you need to stay on a first name basis with your dermatologist, and if he or she finds something that needs to be carefully removed, call Dr. Malamet to do it.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer
This is true. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. More than 8,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with it every day! Probably double that or more are undiagnosed.
Sunscreen prevents skin cancer
Nope. Sunscreen helps block the rays than lead to skin cancer, but just because you have on sunscreen doesn’t mean you can spend every waking minute in the sun without repercussions. Sun damage is cumulative.
If you have lots of moles, you have a higher risk of melanoma
Although moles don’t usually turn into skin cancer, there is a correlation between moles and developing melanoma. People with moles, especially large ones, have a higher risk of melanoma. The rough number is 50 — if you have more than 50 moles on your skin, your risk of skin cancer is higher.
Now go out and have fun in the Southern California sun. But if your dermatologist finds a growth that needs to be removed, have the person call Dr. Malamet. His surgical skills will make your scarring as minimal as possible. Call us at 818-380-3130 for an appointment.