With temperatures rising and no rain in sight, San Antonians are getting an extreme dose of sunshine. With that comes an increased risk of skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.
The Cancer Therapy & Research Center is offering free skin cancer screenings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11, at the CTRC, 7979 Wurzbach Road. The CTRC is part of the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.
The major risk factor for getting skin cancer is exposure to too much ultraviolet (UV) light. The primary source of UV light is the sun, but tanning beds also are a significant source of UV rays.
“Using indoor tanning beds before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent and the risk increases with each use,” said CTRC dermatologist Dr. Robert Gilson, a clinical associate professor at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.
Some of the other risk factors for skin cancer are light skin, age, the male gender, radiation exposure and previous skin cancer.
Protecting your skin
“Covering up your skin; staying in the shade; and using a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are the best ways to protect your skin,” Dr. Gilson said. He recommends using a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
1 in 5 will get skin cancer
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common with squamous cell carcinoma being second. Melanoma, which causes only 1 percent of skin cancer, accounts for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Facts & Figures 2016,” approximately 76,380 new cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed and 10,130 deaths are predicted for this year. On average, one person dies from melanoma every hour.
The only way to know if you have skin cancer is to be examined by a doctor, such as a dermatologist, who specializes in skin diseases. To make your appointment for a free skin screening by a CTRC dermatologist on Aug. 11, visit https://makelivesbetter.uthscsa.edu/skincancerscreening or call (210) 450-1152.