The background is simple and powerful. Our skin is the body’s largest organ, and skin cancer is the most common – and most preventable – form of cancer. More cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year than all other forms of cancer combined. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and about 9,500 people find out they have skin cancer every day.

Put Peace of Mind on Your Christmas List

Early diagnosis is the key to surviving, and what could be earlier than December?

Yes, if you’re a slave to fashion, then May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, but why wait? Scheduling is easier now, and, for many of us, detection may be easier now, too. For those of us who tan in the outdoor months, our winter skin may show anomalies more clearly. Your family physician is well-versed and well-equipped to detect skin cancers at any stage, against any tan lines, or lack thereof, but self-screening can be particularly effective in the winter.

Self-examination, a good idea on an ongoing basis, still does not take the place of a regular, professional exam by your family physician for two reasons: 1) there are body parts you cannot readily see, and 2) are you really going to bet your life on seeing the difference between an alluring mole and a deadly melanoma?

The Biggest Hazard, Work or Play

The many harms of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun call for every defense we can muster, because it is everywhere. UV is part of the light spectrum we get from the sun, and it’s not the part that’s good for us.

In fact, the Department of Health & Human Services includes UV radiation at the top of its list of occupational hazards, when it mobilizes health campaigns and resources. More people are threatened on the job from the effects of UV radiation than any other work-related danger, and we all share this hazard in common, everyone under the sun.

When Are We Out of the Sun After All?

Living here in the coastal Lowcountry, more of our lives are lived outdoors year-round. Golf magazine research once called December here the ideal golf getaway, and our year-round neighbors say that late fall and early winter is “summer for locals.” Limiting sun exposure with hats and sleeves is becoming a bigger part of our sense of style, as well as our way of life, and wearing sunscreen year-round is becoming more common practice.

All these improvements in awareness and prevention are good. But nothing – nothing – takes the place of a skin cancer screening from a healthcare professional.

So, it’s a good idea every year to get a once-over from your family physician. Why shouldn’t December be your own personal reminder. Just call us at 843-815-6468.