If you’re planning to soak up some sunshine for a golden tan this summer, here’s a suggestion: Don’t.
The way to prevent melanomas is to minimize sun exposure, and many dermatologists and oncologists say tanning beds are just as bad, if not worse. While the sun has different kinds of rays in different percentages, tanning beds are just pure ultraviolet rays, known to cause melanoma.
The threat is considered so serious that some medical experts say tanning beds are to skin cancer what cigarettes are to lung cancer. Too often, oncologists see the negative effects of a lifetime of tanning.
Just as important as avoiding overexposure is taking action when the sun has left its mark. New or changing lesions on the skin should always be checked.
If you have a skin lesion or a mole that’s itching, bleeding, or that has changed in appearance, have it examined promptly by a dermatologist. Waiting gives cancer cells more time to put down roots and spread to lymph nodes and elsewhere in the body, making treatment more extensive and difficult.
With early intervention, a melanoma diagnosis is not as ominous as it used to be. Early melanomas often are curable by surgical removal, and recently developed immune therapy treatments are showing remarkable promise.
And fortunately, tanning isn’t quite as popular as it once was. Maybe a younger generation can learn from predecessors who are being treated by physicians after a lifetime of sunbathing and sports without sun protection.
If you are concerned about a skin lesion or mole, don’t be afraid and don’t assume that it’s probably nothing – get it checked. To find a qualified dermatologist in your area, please visit www.covenanthealth.com/findaphysician.