Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Even though the ‘dog days’ of summer are winding down, you still need to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays – all year long. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common kinds of skin cancer, and most are easily cured. The risk of developing these cancers is directly related to your cumulative amount of sun exposure over your lifetime.
Melanoma is a less common form of skin cancer, but it is much more lethal. Your risk of melanoma is also related to sun exposure, especially sunburns. About two-thirds of melanoma is thought to be caused by skin cell damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Some melanomas may be preventable by limiting sun exposure. A person's risk for melanoma more than doubles if he or she had five or more severe sunburns in adolescence. The simple act of applying sunscreen can help reduce your risk of burning and developing skin cancer. For instance, a clinical study of sunscreen use in Australia found that people who used sunscreen on a daily basis for four years had 50 percent fewer melanomas develop over the following 10 years (Journal of Clinical Oncology, Green, et al, 2011).
Other ways to reduce your risk of sun exposure include:
So remember, whether gardening, spending time at the pool, raking leaves or hitting the ski slopes, be sure to protect yourself from the sun!
Ann W. Silk, MD, is a medical oncologist who evaluates patients in the Melanoma and Soft Tissue Oncology Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.