By: Stacy Byone, NP, nurse navigator, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center
Sunlight is a major cause of skin aging and skin cancer. As you age, you may start to notice more wrinkles, age spots, skin tags and thinning of your skin.
It’s important to remember that skin health is important year-round, not just during summer. By caring for your skin as you age, you can reduce your risk for skin cancer and make your skin look and feel better.
Age spots are flat, brown spots often caused by years in the sun. They are bigger than freckles and commonly show up on the face, hands, arms, back and feet.
Skin tags are small, usually flesh-colored growths of skin that have a raised surface. They become common as people age, especially for women. They are most often found on the eyelids, neck, and body folds such as the armpit, chest, and groin.
Age spots and skin tags are harmless. However, skin cancer can have more serious implications. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. About 3.3 million Americans are diagnosed with basal and squamous cell skin cancers each year. And the American Cancer Society estimates that in 2019 about 96,480 new melanomas will be diagnosed. There are three main types of skin cancer:
Most skin cancers are preventable, and you can help reduce age spots, skin tags and wrinkles by protecting your skin from the sun. It’s important that you always practice sun safety, not just on sunny days. The sun can cause skin damage even on overcast or cloudy days. Keep your skin healthy by following the tips below.
You can reduce your risk for skin cancer by having regular skin cancer screenings. A skin cancer screening is a visual exam that can be done by yourself or your doctor. It’s recommended that older adults perform monthly self-exams and see their doctor at least once a year. This may need to be more frequent if you are at a higher risk for skin cancer.
Skin cancers can develop anywhere on your body and form when mutations occur in your skin cells causing the cells to grow and form a mass or clump. It most often develops in areas frequently exposed to the sun like your face, ears and the back of your neck, but also can occur in areas that aren’t exposed to the sun.
Some signs or changes that are important to look out for include:
Make an appointment with your doctor immediately if you develop any of these symptoms and remember that not all skin changes are cancerous.
Everyone is at risk, but if you have any of the below characteristics you have a greater chance of developing skin cancer.
The MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center is committed to helping patients overcome the challenges that come with skin and a wide range of cancers. The MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute’s multi-disciplinary care team provides personalized care for each patient, using the latest innovative technologies and treatments.
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