Despite the fact that skin cancer is the most commonly type of cancer in the United States, public awareness of the disease if considered terrifyingly inadequate. Each year, no less the two million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the US alone – a wholly devastating figure considering that most cases are in fact entirely preventable.
As part of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, the American Academy of Dermatology in conjunction with Target is offering free screenings for skin cancer which are open to the public this Saturday across the US. One of the doctors taking part in the drive spoke with concern that despite ongoing public health drives to push the importance of preventative measures and safe behavior, skin cancer cases are once again on the rise – particularly in men.
“They often have a passive view toward skin cancer, thinking it’s going to happen and then they’re going to have it treated, which isn’t always the case, because there are some types of skin cancer that can be deadly, like melanoma,” warned Dr. John Browning.
He went on to remind the public that even when the sun doesn’t appear to be at its strongest, there’s no such thing as a good time to skip using sunscreen.
“The main thing to be aware of is an SPF of 30 or higher, and you’re looking for both UVA and UVB protection. So it should say ‘Broad spectrum, SPF 30 or higher,'” Browning added.
Even with a proactive approach, experts are once again warning sun-seekers not to read too deeply into the protective promises of their favorite sunscreen brands, after reaching the conclusion that most are not effective enough against skin cancer. New research suggests that deadly malignant melanoma is still a very serious risk to those slapping on plenty of sunscreen and believing they’re fully protected.
The British team behind the study insists that the time has come to spread awareness of the importance of boosting skin protection with appropriate clothing and accessories, using sunscreen as just a single step in the protective process.
A study was carried out on animals to look deeply into the way in which the sun’s UV rays have the potential to trigger deadly skin cancer. Tens of thousands of new cases of malignant melanoma are diagnosed every year in the US – a huge proportion of which are attributed to UV exposure.
Prior to the study, scientists did not fully understand exactly how the UV rays of the sun affect skin cells’ DNA in such a manner as to potentially cause skin cancer. By isolating and identifying the molecular mechanism triggered by UV light, the researched were able to evaluate just how effective sunscreen is against skin cancer.
“UV light targets the very genes protecting us from its own damaging effects, showing how dangerous this cancer-causing agent is,” wrote Professor Richard Marais from the University of Manchester.
“Very importantly, this study provides proof that sunscreen does not offer complete protection from the damaging effects of UV light,”
“This work highlights the importance of combining sunscreen with other strategies to protect our skin, including wearing hats and loose fitting clothing, and seeking shade when the sun is at its strongest.”
The full list of locations offering free skin cancer screenings throughout the day can be found by clicking here.