How Much UV Exposure Causes Skin Cancer? - An Expert's Perspective

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major risk factor for skin cancer. Research has shown that more than five sunburns can double the risk of developing melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer. Every year, more new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States than new cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives, and an American dies from skin cancer every hour.

UV radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, with shorter wavelengths than visible light. Our eyes can't see UV rays, but our skin can feel them. Unprotected exposure to UV radiation is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. I was first diagnosed with melanoma when I was 19 years old.

I noticed a small black mole on my leg that was as small as the tip of a pencil, but with serrated edges. I immediately contacted my doctor and was able to detect stage I cancer. After more than five surgeries, the melanoma was gone. However, seven years later it had returned.

This time, the melanoma appeared as a larger black mole that grew to the size of a twenty-five cent coin over a weekend. I called my doctor right away and had two more surgeries to remove the melanoma. The effects of UV radiation on our skin can be serious and long-lasting. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with UV exposure and take steps to protect yourself from its damaging effects.

Wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding direct sunlight during peak hours are all effective ways to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. It is also important to be aware of any changes in your skin and contact your doctor if you notice any suspicious moles or lesions. Early detection is key to successful treatment and can help reduce the risk of serious complications from skin cancer.

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