Protecting yourself from the summer sun and its harmful UV rays is often not simple. Public health information about when and how to screen for skin cancer has become somewhat confusing.

In April 2023, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent national group of scientific experts, provided The latest advice on skin cancer after screening A systematic review of existing research. The task force concluded that evidence does not support widespread annual skin screening of adolescents and adults, but that catching cancer at its earliest stages reduces the risk of death from skin cancer.

At first glance, these claims may seem contradictory.So The Conversation Asked Dermatologists Enrique Torcia, Tamara Terzian and Neil Box Help clarify the task force’s recommendations, what they mean for the public and how people can minimize their skin cancer risk.

How common is skin cancer in the United States?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer affects approximately 6 million Americans each year.the number is More than all other types of cancer combined.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma – collectively known as keratinocyte carcinomas – accounting for more than 97% of skin cancer cases, but invasive melanoma causes the most deaths. Keratinocyte carcinoma arises from the basal cells and more differentiated squamous cells in the epidermis (the topmost layer of the skin), whereas melanoma arises from melanocytes at the junction or middle layer of the epidermis and dermis.

Unlike normal cells, skin cancer cells grow unrestricted and have the ability to invade the dermis.

Aggressive melanoma is classified as stages 1 to 4. The higher the number, the more aggressive the tumor is to the dermis and other organs of the body. a process called transfer.

What are the main causes of skin cancer?

Excessive exposure to UV light causes most skin cancers.Both light and dark skinned people possible skin cancer, but people with light skin are at greater risk. People with light skin, light or red hair, or a large number of moles are more prone to UV damage and severe burns.People with darker skin produce more a protective pigment called melanin.

Tanning is the body’s protective response to UV skin damage, stimulating melanocytes produce melanin. People who use tanning beds are at higher risk of skin damage and skin cancer.That’s why the American Academy of Dermatology and others Advice to avoid sunbeds. Outdoor workers or those who relax outdoors, especially at higher altitudes, are exposed to more UV rays.

Having a history of sunburn also puts people at greater risk for skin cancer.Since UV damage is cumulative, skin cancer is More common in people over 55.

skin cancer survivors also more likely to develop another type of cancer in their lifetime.In addition, people with squamous cell carcinoma may be at Higher risk of dying from non-cancer causes. The reason for these observations is unknown, but may be related to inflammation or altered immunity, or both, in skin cancer survivors.

What is the debate behind screening?

An ongoing debate revolves around whether more screening could reduce the number of deaths from melanoma.

The incidence of melanoma in the United States has increased dramatically since the early 1990s. Part of this growth may be due to a greater emphasis on early detection. Discover more melanomasespecially those identified at the earliest stages, also known as stage 0 or melanoma on site.

Despite this, the per capita death rate from melanoma has remained constant over the past 40 years.researchers have attribute this fact to overdiagnosisin which suspicious lesions are diagnosed as early-stage melanoma even though they may not actually be melanoma or progress to invasive melanoma, worst prognosis.

This observation suggests that widespread screening may result in unnecessary surgical biopsies and increase the psychological stress associated with a cancer diagnosis.

However, a new study published after the task force’s recommendations showed that melanoma patients on site The risk of dying from melanoma is small, but live longer than average. The authors speculate that an early diagnosis of melanoma can improve patients’ awareness of their overall health status, leading to more health-conscious behaviors. Therefore, screening the public may have additional benefits.

What is the basis for the task force’s new recommendations?

The task force reviewed current and past data on the main types of skin cancer.Panel relies in part on results from large public Skin Cancer Screening Program in Germany.The project initially examined 20-year-olds from one state and subsequently Expand the program to the whole country Includes people over the age of 35. However, there was no change in melanoma mortality compared with areas where skin screening was not offered.

Results from a screening program in Germany do not provide strong evidence that widespread annual public screening of adults reduces skin cancer deaths compared with current practice.However, based on a large number of studies involving millions of patients, the task force did conclude that detecting melanoma at an earlier stage when the tumor is less aggressive improve patient survival.

When should a skin exam be done?

American Academy of Dermatology Skin Cancer Foundation and CDC Recommended monthly self-test. This requires getting familiar with your skin or that of a family member. Fortunately, there are many online guidelines for detecting suspicious skin lesions.

Seek medical advice whenever you are concerned about spots on your skin.Annual or more frequent exams are also Recommended for high-risk groups. This includes those who are older or prone to skin cancer, skin cancer survivors, and those who are immunocompromised, such as organ transplant recipients.

8% to 30% of the U.S. population Get an annual skin check, but these numbers are imprecise because screening rates have not been fully studied. Getting screened can also be challenging for some people.In response, nonprofit organizations such as American Academy of Dermatology, Skin Cancer Foundation and sun bus Provide free exam resources. However, these opportunities are often few and far between.

Based on internal unpublished data from The Sun Bus, our mobile clinic that operates in the central and southern United States, the high number of people seeking free exams is primarily motivated by concerns about skin lesions and the cost of seeing a dermatologist.

Our data suggest that screening programs attract motivated and health-conscious individuals.

How can I minimize my risk of skin cancer?

Strategies to limit UV exposure will reduce skin cancer risk. This includes avoiding sunburn by:

  • find shade
  • covering exposed skin
  • use a hat and sunglasses
  • use and reapply sunscreen regularly

Proper use of broad-spectrum sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 Blocks 97% of UV rays. Apply these products 15-20 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply every two hours.

UV rays are most intense between 10 am and 4 pm. Better keep an eye on the UV Index – forecast by zip code, Item UV Exposure Risk The range is 0 to 11. A UV Index below 2 is safest, while 11 is extremely dangerous.

Ideally, clothing should have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50.Wearing normal long-sleeved clothing and pants will also provide some protection.

These steps can reduce UV-induced skin aging and cancer, keeping your skin looking healthy in later life.

Enrique TorciaAssistant Research Professor of Dermatology, University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine; Neil BoxAssociate Clinical Professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology, University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicineand Tamara TerzianAssistant Professor of Dermatology, University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine

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