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Tips for Skin Cancer Self-Examination

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, adding to the 5.4 million new cases that are diagnosed in the United States each year. Being diligent about skin cancer all year long, however, is the best way to beat the odds and keep risks of getting it lower.

"The American Academy of Dermatology reports that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the country," says Katherine Goldman, celebrity esthetician/waxologist and owner of the Stript Wax Bar. "The good news is that there are plenty of things we can do to help minimize the risks of getting it."

Skin cancer is when the cells in the skin have been damaged by tanning beds or the sun. Those damaged cells begin to quickly multiply out of control and form a tumor. Doing routine self-examinations is the best way to catch possible skin cancer sites early so they can be treated. To conduct a self-examination, keep these tips in mind: - Twice a year, conduct a self-examination of the entire body. - While examining the entire body, look for moles, birthmarks, beauty marks, or any brown marks. - Once you have identified those particular marks, pay attention to whether or not they change in color, size, and texture. Look for any spots that are irregularly shaped or that are larger than the size of a pencil eraser. - Also, look for skin growths that appear brown, black, translucent, pearly, or multicolored, as well as those that may be sore, hurt, itch, bleed, or scab. - If you find spots that meet the criteria and are concerning, be sure to have them checked out by a doctor.

"Along with regular examinations, it's important to protect the skin from the start," says Goldman. "We need to take measures from the start to help keep our skin safe from the sun and to choose safer tanning options. Spray tanning is very popular, looks great, and helps people avoid the ultraviolet (UV) light risks."

Skin cancer is caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, which is a known carcinogen. There are 419,000 cases of skin cancer each year that are linked to indoor tanning. Despite the information available about the dangers of tanning beds, many people are still putting themselves at risk. Spray tans are a healthier way to have a tan, because they allow people to avoid tanning by being in the sunlight or using tanning beds. People can still have the same bronzed and beautiful look, without all of the health risks of going to a tanning bed. Plus, it's estimated that 90 percent of skin aging is caused by sun exposure, so people can protect their skin from cancer and from aging at the same time when they opt for a spray tan, rather than tanning in the sun or a tanning bed.

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