The Derm Group

The Surgeon General issued a lengthy “call to action” yesterday regarding the sharp increase of melanoma, and steps needed to combat this deadly disease.  The Derm Group would like to remind all of our patients to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen DAILY (and re-apply every two hours), and schedule routine full body skin screenings.  We have found thousands of “early stage” and “pre-melanoma” lesions through routine screening exams, literally saving lives.  Call 973-571-2121 to schedule your screening today.

The report also cites the dangers of tanning salons, and dispels the notion that darker skinned individuals are immune from skin cancer.  From the report:

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and most cases are preventable.

Most skin cancers are at least partially caused by UV exposure, so reducing exposure reduces skin cancer risk. However, one out of every three U.S. adults has been sunburned in the past year, and most do not take recommended actions to protect themselves from the sun. In addition, indoor tanning rates are high among some groups, such as young, non-Hispanic white females, and skin cancer incidence rates are increasing. These facts show a need to take action to improve sun protection behaviors and address the harms of indoor tanning.

Individuals can take steps to reduce their risk of developing skin cancer. Sun protection helps prevent the harmful effects of sun exposure, including sunburn, skin cancer, premature skin aging, and eye damage. When used as part of a comprehensive approach, well-tailored, individual-focused strategies may be effective for reaching specific subpopulations.  According to WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, ideal sun protection involves several behaviors, including wearing tightly woven protective clothing, wearing a hat that provides adequate shade to the whole head, seeking shade whenever possible, avoiding outdoor activities during periods of peak sunlight (such as midday), and using sunscreen (in conjunction with other sun protection behaviors).

There are barriers to using sun protection. Many Americans lack a general knowledge or awareness about the risks associated with sun exposure, or they think they are at low risk of developing skin cancer or sunburn. Social norms regarding tanned skin as attractive and healthy create barriers to reducing intentional exposure to UV radiation, whether indoors or outdoors. Intentional tanning, which includes both indoor tanning and seeking a tan outdoors, is strongly associated with a preference for tanned skin and other appearance-focused behaviors. Women in particular may experience greater social pressure to tan and have tanned skin, which likely explains the higher rates of indoor tanning observed among women than men.