Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Each year in the U.S., over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people. Unfortunately melanoma, a very serious form of skin cancer, rates have consistently risen in the last decade.
Skin cancer can affect all age groups. Melanoma is the number one cancer in young adults aged 25 to 29, and it is by far the deadliest form of skin cancer, causing more than 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths.
Skin cancer impacts a disproportionately high number of Oregonians. In fact, Oregon currently has the 5th highest number of melanoma cases in the nation.
Because melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults, we recommend an annual full body skin check for all adults over the age of 25. When caught early, the risk of death from melanoma is very low; but when caught late, the mortality rate is much higher.
We strongly recommend a skin check if any of the following describes you.
It is especially important to be seen immediately if you experience any of the following changes in your skin.
At Aspen Mountain Dermatology, we recommend year-round, daily use of sun protection. Every day. During both summer and winter months. When choosing a sunscreen, look for a product with the following characteristics.
The active ingredients in sunscreens fall into one of two categories—chemical sunscreens or physical sunscreens.
Chemical sunscreens contain organic (carbon-based) compounds, such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octisalate. These sunscreens work by creating a chemical reaction when exposed to UV light. They essentially absorb and change harmful UV rays into heat, and then release the heat from the skin. When using a chemical sunscreen, make sure that it contains active ingredients to block both UVB and UVA rays (in other words, one that is “broad spectrum”).
Physical sunscreens contain mineral ingredients, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They work by sitting on top of the skin and physically deflecting and scattering damaging UV rays away from the skin. Physical sunscreens block both UVA and UVB rays.
SPF, or sun protective factor, is a measure of how much UV radiation is required to produce a burn on protected skin (skin with sunscreen on) as opposed to skin without protection.
It’s best to keep infants out of the sun as much as possible during their first 6 months. After that, we recommend a sunscreen specially formulated for babies 6 months and older. Typically, these sunscreens contain only physical UV blockers.
You can purchase clothing made specifically for greater sun protection. Look for clothing that offers UPF (Ultraviolet Protective Factor) of at least 30. Most everyday clothing that’s not specifically made for outdoor use is typically only UPF 7 to 15.