Even though we have been deluged with rain this spring, summer is quickly approaching and many Americans will be heading out into the sun. Whether you spend time at the beach, in the mountains or sightseeing in the city, you will be exposing your skin to the restorative, but also harmful, rays of the sun.
Arnold Baskies, MD, a Virtua cancer surgeon and Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society (ACS), said recently in a media release: “America is suffering a tsunami of skin cancer.” The statistics show that, annually, there are more new cases of skin cancer in the U.S. than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon combined. In 2018, according to the ACS, it is estimated that over 91,000 people will be diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancers are also on the rise—5.4 million of these are treated each year.
Before age 50, women are more at risk for developing melanoma; however, after 50 men have a higher risk. Why? “Women tend to take better care of themselves and go to the doctor to be checked,” explained Baskies. “Men don’t get as much screening and preventative care.”
Among Americans, the risk for developing melanoma has increased by 2000% since the 1930’s. Researchers believe the incidences of melanoma will continue to increase for the next ten to twenty years. The reason for the increase? Tanning. Indoor tanning is especially harmful because there is considerable exposure to UV rays in tanning beds. People who have used indoor tanning beds more than ten times in their lives, have a 34% risk of developing melanoma compared to people who have never been exposed to tanning beds. Indoor tanning accounts for over 400,000 cases of skin cancer every year in the U.S.
Protecting your skin when out in the sun is necessary to help avoid getting skin cancer. The FDA recommends these sun safety behaviors:
- Limit time in the sun during the hours of 10 am and 2 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest
- Wear clothing to cover the skin as much as possible
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen product with an SPF of at least 15 or higher
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, more often if you are seating or immersing yourself in water
- Receive annual skin evaluations from your doctor to identify any possible problems
This life-saving message about wearing sunscreen seems to have been embraced by many people. Recently, two New Jersey shore towns installed free sunscreen dispensers to keep vacationers safe, not sorry.
As one of New Jersey’s largest, non-profit health systems, Virtua provides comprehensive health care services to achieve its mission to help people be well, get well and stay well. Virtua provides services through Virtua Medical Group with more than 450 clinicians and through Virtua Physician Partners with more than 1500 providers at its urgent care centers, hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, health and wellness centers, fitness centers, home health services, long-term care and rehabilitation centers, and paramedic program. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers nearly 8,000 babies a year.
It provides health services to 1,500 businesses, and participates in Virtua Physician Partners, a clinically integrated network of 1,400 physicians and other clinicians. Virtua is affiliated with Penn Medicine for cancer and neuroscience and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for pediatrics. It employs over 9,000 and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of a 4-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for quality of care, and its hospitals earned straight A’s in patient safety by The Leapfrog Group and the 2016 Patient Safety Award from Healthgrades.
U.S. News and World Report ranked Virtua’s Mount Holly and Voorhees hospitals as High Performing Hospitals and Voorhees as a Best Regional Hospital. Virtua is also the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit Virtua online by clicking here or here.