Skin cancer is one of the more serious dangers of the sun. While ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the primary cause of skin cancer, other causes include tobacco smoking, HPV infections, genetic syndromes such as congenital melanocytic nevi syndrome, Marjolin’s ulcers, ionizing radiation, and more. Approximately one in five American’s will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point during their lifetime, with the majority of these instances caused by sun exposure. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has compiled research that may surprise some. The research reveals that the southern states typically have fewer cases of melanoma diagnoses per year than some of the northern states such as Washington, Oregon, and Vermont. Texas is in fact one of the states with the lowest number of yearly melanoma diagnoses.
In order to prevent skin cancers caused by sun exposure, individuals can apply UV blocking products such as sunscreens and sun sleeves. Sunscreen has been proven to be an effective method of preventing squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, however, little evidence exists for the prevention of basal cell carcinoma. Sun sleeves are essentially UV blocking sleeves that individuals, such as truckers, can pull on that provide 50+ ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). A regular white tee shirt will only provide 10-15 UPF. Avoiding sun burning, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding sun exposure, especially during peak periods of UV exposure, such as midday, can significantly lower the risk of damage to the skin. Sun damage is not limited to cancer, with other damage including wrinkles, uneven or splotchy skin tone, freckles, solar lentigines age spots, and actinic keratosis which is an early sign of skin cancer. UV index forecasts for each day can be monitored allowing for extra precautions to be taken on days where high sun intensity is expected.
Visit the following resources for additional information on skin cancer and other dangers of the sun, and how individuals can prevent or decrease the likelihood of these conditions.
Types of Skin Cancer: The University of California School of Medicine Department of Dermatology provides this resource on skin cancer. Skin cancers discussed include basal cell carcinoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Skin Cancer FAQ: Frequently asked questions about (skin cancer) can be found on this FAQ page provided by the James, a comprehensive cancer care center at Ohio State University.
Skin Cancer Prevention: Presented by the National Cancer Institute, this page provides information on the leading risk factors that cause skin cancer and discusses how avoiding these factors may help to prevent cancer from emerging.
Sun Damage Slideshow: The Mayo Clinic presents this slideshow with accompanying information on sun induced damage to the skin. Sun damage discussed includes uneven pigmentation, solar lentigines, labial lentigo, melisma, and poikiloderma.
Epidemic of Skin Cancer in the US: WebMD discusses the steep increase in cases of nonmelanoma cancers in the United States.
Early Detection and Treatment of Skin Cancer: Accounting for a third of all cancers in the United States, skin cancer is a growing concern of Americans. This resource from the American Academy of Family Physicians discusses early detection and treatment of skin cancers.
Skin Cancer Statistics: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide skin cancer statistics. Statistics provided cover approximately 90% of the United States population.
Sun Exposure: This page from MedlinePlus includes a plethora of information on sun exposure and the risk factors associated with an abundance of UV radiation.
Excessive Sun Exposure: Some of the risks of exposure to too much UV radiation can be found on this page. The page is written with Australians in mind but the information can be beneficial to individuals around the world.
Effects of Sunlight: Sunburn is only one of the results of too much UV exposure. This, skin cancer, and more are discussed on this page on the Oklahoma State University website.