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Protect the Skin You’re in!. Looking at skin cancer, ways to prevent cancer, and spotting it! . Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

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protect the skin you re in

Protect the Skin You’re in!

Looking at skin cancer, ways to prevent cancer, and spotting it!

Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating

  • Comes in many colors and is exposed to all of the elements in the world!
      • Just like house paint
    • Protects against infections
      • shield to outside invaders
    • Sends important signals to your brain
      • pain receptors
    • Helps us heal
      • that’s what scabs do
did you know
Did You Know?
  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.
  • There are three major types of skin cancer:
    • Basal cell carcinoma
    • Squamous cell carcinomas
    • Malignant melanoma
basal cell carcinomas
Basal Cell Carcinomas
  • Are the most common
  • Usually begin on areas exposed to the sun, such as:
    • the head and
    • neck
  • Are being seen in younger people because they are spending more time in the sun with their skin exposed.
basal cell carcinomas don t all look the same
Basal Cell Carcinomas Don’t All Look the Same
  • They can appear as a:
    • Red patch
    • Shiny pearly or translucent pink, red, or white bump
    • Crusty, open sore that will not heal or
    • Scar-like area
  • There may be a rolled border with an indented center.
basal cell carcinoma grows slowly
Basal Cell Carcinoma Grows Slowly.
  • It is highly unusual for a basal cell cancer to spread to distant parts of the body.
  • If not treated, it grows into nearby areas and invades bone or other tissues beneath the skin.
  • After treatment, it can come back in the same place.
  • New basal cell cancers can start elsewhere on the skin.
  • Often, people who have one basal cell cancer will develop a new skin cancer within the next 5 years.
  • Usually on areas exposed to the sun, such as your head and neck!
squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Second most common type of skin cancer found in fair-skinned people.
  • It usually appears on places of the body such as:
    • face
    • ear
    • neck
    • lips, and
    • backs of the hands.
  • It can also begin within scars or skin ulcers elsewhere on the body. Less often, it forms in the skin of the genital area.
squamous cell carcinomas
Squamous Cell Carcinomas
  • More likely to invade tissues beneath the skin, and slightly more likely to spread to lymph nodes or distant parts of the body than are basal cell carcinomas.
  • Can take the form of a persistent scaly red patch that sometimes crusts or bleeds; an open sore that does not heal; or a raised or wart-like growth that may bleed.

YES! This cancer is more likely to invade tissues beneath the skin, and slightly more likely to spread to lymph nodes or distant parts of the body than are basal cell carcinomas.

melanoma tumors
Melanoma Tumors
  • Are often brown or black.
  • Most often appear on the trunk of fair-skinned men and on the lower legs of fair-skinned women, but it can appear other places as well.
    • While having dark skin lowers the risk of melanoma, it does not mean that a person with dark skin will never develop melanoma.
melanoma tumors14
Melanoma Tumors
  • Account for about 4% of skin cancer cases but cause about 79% of skin cancer deaths.
  • The number of new cases of melanoma in the United States is on the rise.
    • The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2005, there will be 59,580 new cases of melanoma in this country.
    • About 7,770 people will die of this disease.
  • Is almost always curable in its early stages.
    • But it is also likely to spread to other parts of the body.
    • Melanoma is much less common than basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, but it is far more serious!
melanoma tumors16
Melanoma Tumors
  • Where would you most likely find melanoma tumors in this man and woman?
Men are more likely to get melanoma on their trunk.

Women are more likely to get melanoma on their lower legs, but it can appear other places as well in either gender.

a is for avoidance
A is for “Avoidance”
  • Limit direct sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • If you are unsure about the sun’s intensity, take the shadow test:
    • If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are the strongest.
    • Plan activities out of the sun during these times.
    • If you must be outdoors, protect your skin.
a is for avoidance avoid tanning beds and sunlamps
A is for “Avoidance” Avoid Tanning Beds and Sunlamps
  • Health experts advise avoiding sunlamps and tanning beds.
    • Tanning lamps give out UVA and frequently UVB as well.
    • Both UVA and UVB can cause serious skin damage, and both contribute to skin cancer growth.
a is for avoidance limit direct sun exposure
A is for “Avoidance”– Limit direct sun exposure
  • UV rays can pass through water.
    • Don’t assume you’re safe if you’re in the water because you’re feeling cool.
    • Be especially careful on the beach and in the snow because sand and snow reflect sunlight, increasing the amount of UV radiation you receive.
  • If you plan to be outdoors, check the UV Index for your area.
    • Local newspaper
    • TV
    • Radio news broadcasts
    • National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s home page
b is for bronzers
B is for “Bronzers”
  • Use bronzing lotions to produce a tanned look without having to bake in the sun!
  • Bronzers give you a healthier way to achieve the look without the risk.
c is for coverage use sunscreen
C is for “Coverage”Use Sunscreen
  • Read the label
    • Choose sunscreen products labeled “broad-spectrum,” which protect against UVA and UVB radiation.
    • Some cosmetics, such as lipsticks and foundations, also are considered sunscreen products if they contain sunscreen.
    • Choose a sunscreen with at least 15 SPF or higher.
      • The SPF number represents the level of sunburn protection provided by the sunscreen – a higher number means more protection.

C is for “Coverage”

  • When using an SPF 15, apply it correctly.
    • Remember that wearing sunscreen does not give you total protection.
      • You get the equivalent of 1 minute of burning UV rays for each 15 minutes you spend in the sun.
      • So, 8 hours in the sun wearing SPF 15 sunscreen is the same as spending 32 minutes unprotected. For high-glare situations, a higher SPF sunscreen or zinc oxide may be used on your nose and lips.
c is for coverage
C is for “Coverage”
  • Products labeled “waterproof” provide protection for at least 80 minutes, even when swimming or sweating.
  • Products that are “water resistant” may provide protection for only 40 minutes.
  • Most sunscreen products expire within 2 to 3 years, but you should check the expiration date on the container to be sure it is still fully effective.
c is for coverage26
C is for “Coverage”
  • Be sure to apply the sunscreen properly.
    • Always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
    • Most recommend applying sunscreen generously to dry skin 20 to 30 minutes before going outside so the chemicals have time to absorb into your skin.
    • Pay particular attention to your:
      • face
      • ears
      • hands,
      • arms,
      • and generously coat the skin that is not covered by clothing.
    • If you’re wearing insect repellent or makeup, sunscreen should be applied before those products.
c is for coverage27
C is for “Coverage”
  • Be generous.
    • About 1 ounce of sunscreen (a “palmful”) should be used to cover the arms, legs, neck, and face of the average adult.
  • For best results, reapply at least every 2 hours and even more often if you are swimming or sweating.
  • Remember that sunscreen usually rubs off when you towel yourself dry.
c is for coverage wear sunglasses that block uv rays
C is for “Coverage”Wear sunglasses that block UV rays
  • Research has shown that long hours in the sun without eye protection increases the chances of developing eye disease.
  • The ideal sunglasses:
    • Do not have to be expensive, but they should block 99 - 100% of UVA and UVB radiation.
    • Some labels may say, “UV absorption up to 400 nm.” This is the same as 100% UV absorption.
    • Also, labels that say “special purpose” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” mean the glasses block at least 99% of UV rays.
    • Those labeled “cosmetic” block about 70% of the UV rays. It there is no label, don’t buy the sunglasses.
c is for coverage wear sunglasses that block uv rays29
C is for “Coverage”Wear sunglasses that block UV rays
  • Darker glasses are not necessarily better because the UV protection comes from an invisible chemical applied to the lenses, not from the color or darkness of the lenses. Look for an ANSI label.
  • Ideally, all types of eyewear, including prescription glasses, contact lenses, and intraocular lens implants used in cataract surgery, should absorb the entire UV spectrum.
  • Large-framed wraparound sunglasses protect your eyes from all angles.
c is for coverage30
C is for “Coverage”
  • Wear protective clothing such as:
    • Long-sleeved shirts
    • Long pants, or
    • Long skirts
  • Wear dark colors
    • They provide more protection than light colors.
  • Wear fabrics that are tightly woven.
    • They protect better than loosely woven clothing.
    • If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through, too.
  • Wear dry fabric
    • It is generally more protective than wet fabric.
c is for coverage wear a hat
C is for “Coverage” -- Wear a Hat
  • A hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim all around is ideal.
    • It protects areas often exposed to the sun, such as:
      • neck
      • ears
      • eyes
      • forehead
      • nose, and
      • scalp.
  • A shade cap (which looks like a baseball cap with about 7 inches of fabric draping down the sides and back) is also good.
    • Often sold in sports and outdoor supply stores.
  • A baseball cap can protect the front and top of the head but not the back of the neck or the ears, where skin cancers commonly develop.
d is for detective
D is for “Detective”
  • Take extra precautions if you have:
    • A family history of skin cancer,
    • Numerous moles, or
    • Very fair skin.
  • Regularly examine your skin, and keep an eye out for any changes.
    • Look for
      • Asymmetry
      • Border
      • Color
      • Diameter
a is for asymmetry
A is for “Asymmetry”
  • Look for moles or lesions (sores) with irregular shapes or ones in which one half differs from the other half.
b is for border
B is for “Border”
  • If the border of the mole or lesion (sore) is irregular, scalloped, or undefined (notched), it should be checked out by your doctor.
c is for color
C is for “Color”
  • Watch for changes in the color, many colors, or when the color varies from one area to another within the mole or sore.
  • Other warning signs are flat, flesh-colored, or brown scar-like or crusty lesions on your chest or back.
d is for diameter
D is for “Diameter”
  • Notice if the mole or lesion is larger than ¼ inch across – about the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil.
  • If you notice any changes, see your doctor.
keep track of skin changes
Keep Track of Skin Changes
  • If you have any moles, it’s a good idea to take digital photos of them so that you can see if they have changed in appearance!
  • Don’t wait for the area to hurt or itch – skin cancer seldom causes pain.
  • Most skin cancers are superficial, slow growing, and highly treatable – especially if found early.
any questions

Written by Courtney J. Schoessow, Extension Program Specialist –

Health Education, August 2005