Breast Cancer Patients at Higher Risk for Melanoma Skin Check-Ups and Self-Exams are Critical
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month gets underway, The Skin Cancer Foundation aims to alert breast cancer patients and survivors that they have an increased risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Research has shown that genetics may play a role – for women carrying a specific breast cancer susceptibility gene, the presence of abnormalities in the gene doubles the risk of melanoma.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the following skin cancer prevention tips for breast cancer patients and survivors:
Beware of photosensitivity. Photosensitivity is an increased sensitivity or abnormal response of the skin to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet (UV) light; people with photosensitivity are at increased risk of developing skin cancers. Photosensitivity can be caused by certain medical conditions and treatments, and breast cancer patients should find out if their treatments could make them photosensitive. If so advised by their physicians, breast cancer patients should be especially careful to seek shade and stay out of direct sunlight between 10 AM and 4 PM, the sun’s most intense hours; wear sun-protective clothing, including wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses; and apply a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB protection) high Sun Protection Factor sunscreen. SPF 30 or higher is advisable for photosensitive individuals.
Be screened. The Foundation recommends that people at high risk of melanoma and other skin cancers undergo frequent full-body skin screenings by a physician— once a year or more often as your physician advises.
Perform self-exams. Self-exams are also important. Performed regularly (monthly is ideal), self-examination can alert you to changes in the skin and aid in the early detection of skin cancer.
Because skin cancers can vary in appearance, it is important to be on the lookout for early warning signs. Melanomas, for instance, often resemble moles. Look especially for skin changes of any kind, such as color changes or growth, and do not ignore a suspicious spot simply because it does not hurt. Skin cancers may be painless, but dangerous all the same. See a physician, preferably one who specializes in diseases of the skin, if you note any change in an existing mole, freckle, or spot or if you find a new mole with any of the warning signs of skin cancer.
For information on performing self-exams and what to look for, visit http://www.skincancer.org/Self-Examination/.
About The Skin Cancer Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. For more information, visit www.SkinCancer.org.