This is our first summer season with new FDA regulations for marketing sunscreen without using misleading claims of effectiveness. 2 million Americans have a skin cancer removed every year. It is the most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. Due to Colorado’s high altitude skin cancer diagnoses are much higher than the national average. Throughout the U.S., the rate of new diagnoses has tripled over the past 35 years.
Most people are fully aware of the dangers of the sun when it comes to skin cancer and the need to use sunscreen. Unfortunately, we think that we are protecting our bodies by applying a lotion based on the claims found on the label. The new FDA rules are still the weakest regulations compared to other countries. Many of the available sunscreens in the U.S. would not be allowed to be purchased in other countries due to being ineffective against preventing sun damage.
Skin examinations are still the best detection for identifying skin cancer. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are mostly curable. Melanoma is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths. It often begins in a mole and it is the most common cancer for young adults, primarily women. In women, it tends to be found on the lower legs. Men typically have it appear on their upper back. Caucasians are 20 times more likely to receive a melanoma diagnosis than Hispanics or African Americans. A recurrence of melanoma is more common 10 or more years after initial treatment. Recently research found that young males are more likely to die of melanoma than young females. Metastatic melanoma does not respond well to chemotherapy or radiation. In 2013, it is estimated that 76,000 will be diagnosed with melanoma. Approximately 9,500 will die from this disease.
Fortunately, there has been much progress in melanoma research and treatment over the past two years. Immunotherapy has shown to be an effective treatment by activating the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells.
When purchasing sunscreen many believe that the higher the SPF the better you are protected. This claim is false and the FDA has proposed to limit SPF claims to 50+ but so far not all manufacturers are cooperating. Purchase sunscreen that protects equally against UVA and UVB rays. Many sunscreen products state that they offer “broad spectrum” protection but they do not provide adequate protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
Everyone knows by now that tanning beds are harmful. How harmful are they? Exposure to tanning beds before the age of 30 increases your risk of melanoma by 75%.
Many people rely completely on the use of sunscreen to protect against skin cancer. If other precautions are not taken to reduce sun exposure, many individuals will still tend to burn which is linked to cancer. One blistering sunburn will double your chances of developing melanoma later in life.
For more information about melanoma treatment, you can visit http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/melanoma/Patient/page1#Keypoint2