Summer is just about here. Time again for sizzling temperatures, cool dips in the pool, and delicious glasses of sweet tea. The nice weather brings people outside, but more hours of daylight also means greater exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. These rays are linked to the three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. As we head into the season, it’s important to stay safe in the sun.
While some sun exposure helps the body make Vitamin D, too much can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. It’s been estimated that the sun’s UV rays are responsible for about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 86 percent of melanomas. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with about 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers diagnosed each year and 76,380 cases of melanoma.
Before you go outdoors, try to remember to:
- Use a water-resistant broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours and after swimming.
- Choose bathing suits that cover more skin; wear a hat and wear sunglasses.
- Don’t lay out, tanning.
- Limit time in the sun when it’s directly overhead, typically between noon and 3 p.m.
- Remind kids to play in the shade where possible.
- Use window film on the car windows.
Skin cancer can affect anyone, although it is about three times more common in men than in women and the risk increases with age. People who have fair skin, a history of sunburns, moles, precancerous skin lesions, a family history of skin cancer, or who spend significant time in the sun, are also at higher risk and should not hesitate to take extra precautions to protect themselves.
As with any form of cancer, early detection is a critical component for successful treatment. Check skin monthly in order to catch new lesions early and ask your doctor for a skin examination at your annual visit. Unfortunately, health care providers make mistakes and countless people who seek medical care are not properly diagnosed, robbing the patient of the ability to fight the disease in its early stages and giving the disease time to spread. Common reasons for misdiagnosis include:
- Disregarding complaints of symptoms
- Failure to recommend or conduct appropriate screening tests
- Misinterpreting test results
- Failure to follow-up after abnormal tests
- Failure to recommend or provide appropriate treatment
- Miscommunicated findings.
Medical errors cause needless emotional, physical, and psychological trauma for patients and their families. In some cases, the mistakes are fatal. If you have any questions about this topic, or believe that you or someone you love has been hurt as the result of diagnostic mistake, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the skin cancer attorneys at the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm. Contact us by calling 1-606-433-0682 or filling out our online form.