Skin Cancer Awareness Month Could Save Your Life

In support of May being Skin Cancer Awareness month, Lisa Heggie, co-owner of ATRA member KINeSYS Performance Sunscreen, wrote this article to help educate the trail running community about skin cancer facts and tips for prevention.

The KINeSYS story is about more than making high quality sunscreen, we exist to play a part in creating a future free from skin cancer. We are passionate advocates for sun safety, who focus on empowering our community with the knowledge that will protect their skin and allow them to live active outdoor lifestyles. Skin Cancer Awareness month celebrates what our core purpose is all about.

Growing up in Australia I thought I was invincible. As a result, I’ve had skin cancer as a young adult. In late 2014, my husband Wade was also diagnosed with melanoma. In the years that followed, we researched countless sun protection products. Our search for the absolute best in sun protection has become more than a passion for us, it’s our purpose.

Below we share some key facts about being skin cancer aware, and glance back to past posts which help to expand knowledge of prevention and protection.

Hat and Sunglasses

Hat and sunglasses are your friends.

Skin Cancer Facts

Skin cancer is America’s most common cancer, with over 5 million cases diagnosed each year, 1 in every 5 people will develop skin cancer by the time they are 70. In the past decade the number of new invasive melanoma cases diagnosed annually has increased by 44 percent.

However there is good news, because skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers, and 85 percent of melanoma cases, are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Creating a new mindset and habits around your sun protection routine, along with regular skin checks, will go a long way to prevention and early detection of skin cancers.

In the Month of May, Check Your Skin

The Skin Cancer Foundation has launched The Big See campaign, which empowers people to know their skin and do regular checks in the mirror. No matter what, if you see anything NEW, CHANGING, or UNUSUAL on your skin, get it checked out as soon as possible.

To celebrate Skin Cancer Awareness month, KINeSYS is encouraging everyone in our community to start looking in the mirror more, and to book a professional SKIN CHECK!

Hat and sunglasses; don’t leave home without them.

Types of Skin Cancer

Along with regular professional skin checks, checking yourself and knowing what to look for, is a great step in early detection of skin cancers.

Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer, with approximately 3.6 million cases diagnosed in the U.S. every year. BCCs are uncontrolled growths that can appear as open sores, scars, shiny bumps or red patches. BCCs rarely metastasize (spread to other organs), but if they are not spotted early or treated properly they can be locally destructive and cause significant scarring.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is second to BCC in prevalence, but still affects an estimated 1.8 million people in the U.S. every year. They can manifest as scaly red patches, warts or open sores. SCCs are more dangerous than BCCs, as they have the potential to metastasize if not detected and treated at an early stage.

Melanoma is perhaps the best-known type of skin cancer, likely because it is also the most dangerous form of the disease. Melanoma can become very hard to treat and even be fatal if allowed to progress. If the cancer is caught early, however, a patient has an estimated 5-year survival rate of 99 percent.

The majority of melanomas appear black or dark brown, but they can also appear pink, white, red, blue or purple. The acronym ABCDE is used to help identify common features of melanoma.

Border irregularity
Colour variation
Diameter larger than 6 mm
Evolving or changing

There is a small genetic component to melanoma rates, however UV exposure represents the biggest risk. Did you know that a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns?

Look who’s got a hat and sunscreen!

For the Best Prevention, Think 365 Sunscreen

As mentioned, the vast majority of skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which means your sun protection strategy is vitally important. We’ve recently started talking about ‘Think 365 Sunscreen,’ and why daily sunscreen use is so important.

Including sunscreen application in your daily routine means you don’t have to add up incidental exposure, or attempt to predict the weather. You will know with certainty that you’ve taken a substantial step toward protecting your skin against long lasting damage.

While daily correct application of sunscreen will go a long way in avoiding sun damage, your approach to protection for yourself and your family shouldn’t be limited to just this. Wear protective clothing that is UV rated, always head out with a hat and sunglasses, and make an effort to take shelter from the sun during peak UV times.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to educate yourself, get a skin check, and re-evaluate your approach to sun protection. For KINeSYS it’s a chance to celebrate our purpose, and to support our community to learn, grow, and stay active outdoors.