Are Seniors More Susceptible to Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US. Statistics collated by the American Academy of Dermatology Association show that 20% of Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. Findings also reveal that about 9,500 US residents are diagnosed with skin cancer each day. These figures are especially worrying for aging adults as they are more vulnerable to the condition.
This article will explore why elderly individuals are more at risk of suffering from skin cancer and how people can prevent this.
Skin Cancer Risk Factors
While many factors can affect skin health and the probability of skin cancer, these are some of the most salient.
• Sun exposure
People who work outdoors under the sun are more susceptible to skin cancer because they’re more exposed to UV light. Similarly, individuals who use tanning beds frequently also increase their susceptibility to skin cancer as they emit UV rays. Generally, the more you expose yourself to UV light, the more likely you are to suffer from skin cancer.
• Skin tone
Caucasians or anyone with naturally light skin are more likely to get skin cancer because darker skin tones have more melanin, a protective pigment that blocks UV radiation. That said, those who don’t maintain their skin health are still at risk of skin cancer, so having darker skin is not an excuse to neglect one’s health.
As people age, their immune system begins to weaken. And since UV radiation can suppress the immune system, this may cause an overall decline in the individual’s health. Consequently, this also increases their chances of skin cancer.
Why Are Seniors More Vulnerable?
Clearly, one of the most prominent factors that contribute to elderly susceptibility to skin cancer is age. However, this isn’t the only notable reason. Apart from the inevitable effects of aging, seniors are also more at risk of skin cancer because they don’t take the necessary protective measures. A report by the CDC states that less than 50% of elderly adults shield their skin from the sun when they’re outside. Nearly 18% say that they don’t use sun protection regularly, and only 15% report doing so.
Given these statistics, it’s important to remind your elderly loved ones to take care of their skin health. Appropriate skin protection is crucial to lowering one’s risks of skin cancer. Moreover, it helps in maintaining one’s overall health.
What to Do for Prevention
Here’s how you can prevent skin cancer for yourself and your loved ones.
• Avoid harmful sun rays
Don’t allow your kids or your senior family members to go out while the sun is at its strongest. Stay inside as much as possible between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Additionally, steer clear of tanning beds as these can increase your risk of getting skin cancer.
• Wear proper clothing to guard against UV rays
If you have to go outside, wear sun-safe clothes, like loose-fitting, long-sleeve shirts, pants, a wide hat, and shades. Should any part of your body remain exposed to sunlight for a prolonged period, you should apply SPF 30+ sunscreen to the area and reapply every other hour.
• Have regular skin exams
Meet with a Dermatologist or dermatology professional annually for scheduled check-ups and skin exams. Call (808)329-1146 to book your appointment today.
Article was specially written for drmonicascheel.com by Amber Woods