Home | Features | News | Skin Cancer Is On The Rise

Skin Cancer Is On The Rise

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
The editor is not immune from sunburn either - first day forgetfulness in Cuba! The editor is not immune from sunburn either - first day forgetfulness in Cuba!

May is designated as national skin cancer prevention month. For many of us, however, this may comes many, many Mays too-late to prevent the problems that range from basal cell carcinoma to full-on melanoma.

by Jim Shepherd - The Fishing Wire from Berkeley

For many of us, the sign of health, vim and vigor when we were young was a tan-the darker, the better.

Unfortunately, those days of using baby oil and iodine to get a deeper, faster tan have given way to age spots, biopsies, and everything from "freezing" pre-cancerous spots to MOHS surgery to excise malignancies.

Today, it's not unusual to see professional athletes in virtually all outdoor sports slathering on the sunscreen. While it's too-late for many of us, we're actually serving as role models for the current generation of outdoor enthusiasts.

As we spend time outdoors, we need to pay close attention to the messages our skin-the largest organ of the human body-sends us. When we feel the heat of the sun, we need to either apply ample amounts of sunscreen or cover ourselves. If we're smart about it, we'll also cover our ears, nose, and thin spots atop our noggins especially well.

Skin cancer is on the rise. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, more than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and of these, about 68,000 cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, are diagnosed. While more people are detecting cancer earlier, increasing their chances of survival, cancer rates are actually rising, especially among young people who use tanning booths and do not use sunblock when outside.
Here are some tips for all of us from Dr. Sam Economou, who leads Plastic Surgery Consultants, Ltd., a plastic and reconstructive surgical practice in Edina, a Minneapolis, Minnesota suburb.

Apply Sunblock.Always apply sunblock lotion at least 30 minutes before going out into the sun, before you start to perspire, allowing the sunblock to soak into your skin. Apply sunblock lotion frequently throughout the day. Use a sunblock with a SPF rating of at least 30 an arms, legs, face and neck and a water-resistant SPF of 50+ on your nose and the top of your ears.

Wear a Hat. The most susceptible place on your body for skin cancer is your head and face. Believe me, reconstructive surgery on the nose and ears is challenging. Whether it's sunny or cloudy out, at the very least, wear a cap with a front bill. Ideally wear a cap with both a front bill and a back bill to cover up the back of your neck. Cover your head, too. You can get skin cancer on your scalp even if you have a full head of hair. Always cover your ears, nose and back of your neck with sunblock.

Polarized UV Blocking Sunglasses. Wear sunglasses to protect your retinas from harmful UV rays. Sunglasses that wrap around your face offer the best protection. Polarized lenses help cut the glare, help you see better and protect your eyes.

Wear Protective Clothing. If you have a high risk or history of skin cancer you should look into protective clothing. Saltwater flats guides who spend their days in the sun in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and California know a thing or two about skin cancer. That's why they cover up. Even on the hottest days, they wear long but lightweight, light-colored pants, long-sleeve shirts, caps, gloves, and lightweight shoes. Saltwater guides also rely upon light-weight face and head masks or what downhill skiers call gators, which they can pull up over the nose, just under their sunglasses and over their ears. Wear shirts and pants that are specially made to block the sun, and wick away moisture to keep you cool while out on the water. Look for shirts and pants that offer a UPF rating of at least 30+, as recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, to protect against harmful UVA/UVB rays. Remember, UV rays are present even on cloudy days.

Avoid Sunburns. Repeated sunburns over time can cause significant damage to your skin. That's why it's important to avoid them. Take extra care to prevent your kids from getting sunburned. Severe sunburns as a child are a leading risk factor in developing skin cancer as an adult. Sunburns happen though, despite our best intentions. If you do receive a severe sunburn, treat the sunburned area with an aloe-based lotion, take cool showers, and if you're experiencing headaches, take a pain reliever.

Stay Hydrated. To maintain healthy skin, don't forget to stay hydrated while fishing by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and avoiding wind burn. When your skin dries out or is not hydrated properly, it's more susceptible to sunburn and long term skin damage.

Conduct Skin Cancer Self-examinations. If you have a fair complexion, multiple freckles and moles, and experienced severe sunburns as a child, you have some of the leading risk factors for skin cancer. Take this seriously, especially if you spend a fair amount of time outside working or playing (like fishing). At least once a month, before you get into or just out of the shower, look at your skin. Look at moles and freckles to see if you notice and changes in their shape, size, color or asymmetry. Make an appointment once a year with your doctor or a dermatologist to look at your skin as part of an annual exam. Especially watch moles and freckles on high risk areas of your body, the face, nose, ears, the back of your hands and your calves.

In case you're wondering why I'm re-stressing this information, it's because I'm prepping for radiation treatments this morning as many of you are reading through today's wires. Take it from me, you ignore this advice at your own peril.

Articles by the same author

Comments (11 posted):

dhayden on 12/05/2011 12:57:47
Just to add... use chap stick (or equivalent) - they come in different SPFs up to 45. And use it frequently. I thought I had a bad case of chap lips until I saw the doctor. If it doesn't heal... get it checked!
HuronRiverDan on 12/05/2011 13:38:12
Plus 1 on what DHayden said, if it doesn't look normal get it checked out. Use a high SPF on your face and hands and if you're out all day re-apply during the day... Dan
littledavid123 on 12/05/2011 16:22:33
I have to get spots frozen or cut off every six months. If you catch this stuff early it is no problem. BUT YOU HAVE TO GET CHECKED. I have a friend who had a spot no bigger than a bb on his leg, he now has a 6 inch scar on his leg but they saved his life. The big nasty "melanoma" can be small on the surface but will spread like tree roots under the skin. Dave
fredaevans on 12/05/2011 16:58:05
This thread is 'a chilling read,' but a darned important one! Here on the upper Rogue, even in late August, the river water temperature will still be in the high 40's/very low 50's ... but it can be 105 degrees in the shade. Many of of just 'wet wade' with wading boots/swim trunks/shorts. Never gave that much thought ... until I read the above. Double jeopardy with sun coming down and being reflected back up on bare legs .....:eek:
jcw355 on 12/05/2011 19:14:12
I know it's hotter but I've started wearing long sleeve t-shirts because of the sun. I should get some sunscreen though because I always have a redneck and hands after a long day out.
Frank Whiton on 13/05/2011 20:56:52
This story is important on many levels. Anyone who fishes or hunts have a high level of exposure to the sun. Long term exposure to the sun will eventually result in sun damage and possibly skin cancer. If you have a dark tan you are getting too much sun for the long term. Not just sun exposure is a reason to get checked by a Doctor. Moles require constant monitoring. Any changes over time is a definite warning that something is happening and should be checked. We have a dear friend who had a small mole on her cheek and it finally got a little bigger but she ignored it. Finally when it stated to bleed they discovered cancer. She has recovered but lost the jawbone on one side along with all of the teeth and one complete ear. For the past ten years she has received nourishment through a tube in her stomach. Not a pretty story but it could have been prevented. Living here in Florida our summers run 90 to 95 degrees. I wear long sleeves, long pants a hat with a cape and use sun block on any thing that might get some sun. The fellow I fish with a lot wears shorts, T-shirt and sandals with no socks. He has a terribly dark tan and I worry about his future. I always offer him sun block but most times he doesn't use it. So please anyone who has something on their body that was not there in their youth or something has changed, get checked out. Frank
fredaevans on 13/05/2011 23:26:40
I know it's hotter but I've started wearing long sleeve t-shirts because of the sun. I should get some sunscreen though because I always have a redneck and hands after a long day out. JW, drop a few dimes and get the 'UV' protective shirts and pants. I've three of the shirts and one of the pant, but (until I read this thread) usually un-zipped the legs bit and wore them as 'shorts.' Not anymore......
caseywise on 14/05/2011 00:14:30
columbia has a great line of fishing specific clothing as does redington. i have a bunch of there stuff and wear it often. also got a par of "dr shade" fingerless gloves, that go with me everywhere. plus a good sunscreen for the rest. casey
Fly2Fish on 14/05/2011 03:49:25
I would like to endorse fully what Frank said. I'd also like to offer this caution about hats. For some reason, fly-fishing and ballcaps seem to go together. This works well until you get skin cancer on your unprotected ears. I'd like to see the fishing clothing industry get responsible and promote full brim hats or the equivalent instead of always promoting logo ballcaps.
TexUte Fly on 16/05/2011 03:29:56
my dad and grandpa both have had skin cancer, though it was treated wit ease i always wear a long sleeve shirt wen fishing, even when im back home and its 110 out. usually one of those columbia ones, they keep you pretty cool. though when hiking and doing physical work im always sure to put on some spf when i cant cover up.
Liphookedau on 16/05/2011 10:00:35
Hi All. Coincidentally I've just had some small Skin Cancers burnt out last week. We all tend to go for the Baseball type caps which give no protection at all to the sides of the melon,so it's always a good idea as mentioned to put on some Sunscreen,however care has to be taken to keep it away from Fly Lines as it really can destroy them. Even though in The Mountains where we are the temp gets into the 40s Degrees C every Summer. Also it's not uncommon in the Australian Outback to reach 40-50 Degrees C,& higher (about 104-122 + Degrees F) where we spend a little time as friends have Sheep & Cattle Properties. We have a high rate also of Skin Cancer thankfully there's heaps of continual warnings & it's even compulsorary for all the School Children to all wear hats. So the bottom line is if you go out in the Sun wear a Good Hat Clothes which cover & protect from being burnt as well as what we say Slip Slop Slap,which is the slogan The Australian Skin Cancer Foundation uses. Brian.
Add/View Comments
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Tagged as:

No tags for this article

Rate this article


Follow NA Fly Fishing Forums!