You've Diligently Protected Your Skin Your Whole Life, So Why Are You Scheduled For Skin Cancer Surgery?

Have you been diagnosed with skin cancer and are awaiting skin cancer surgery? Have you been diligent in your efforts to protect your skin, and wondering how on Earth this could have happened to you? If so, read on to learn about 4 things that might have contributed to your illness.

You've Been Using Sunscreen Incorrectly

Using sunscreen diligently doesn't mean just slathering it on before you hit the beach; you have to make its application part of your daily routine. Don't feel alone, though. When the Consumer Reports National research Center conducted a poll, they found out that 39% of Americans didn't use sunscreen at all, and 69% of them used it occasionally. Add those numbers together and it's 100%, which means that nobody in this country is using sunscreen as they should.

Besides applying sunscreen every day you leave your house, you should be using about 1 ounce of it at a time. You should apply it 30 minutes prior to actual sun exposure, and you should always check the container's expiration date prior to purchase (you never know how long it's been sitting on the store shelf). Going forward after your surgery, follow these guidelines and help spread the word about how to use sunscreen correctly.

Exposure Occurred When You Were Too Young To Remember

It's a common misconception that it takes years of sun exposure to develop skin cancer. While the onsets of some skin cancers are slow and gradual, melanoma (the most dangerous form) is most closely associated with periods of short, intense sun exposure. 

Even if you've applied sunscreen diligently for as long as you can remember, a single sunburn you had when you were a toddler, or a single spring break trip you took as a struggling college student who couldn't afford sunscreen could have been enough exposure to trigger the cancer you're facing now.

The Sun Isn't The Culprit

There is also a chance that your skin cancer was triggered by something other than sun exposure. Arsenic is a known risk, and you're probably exposed to it on a daily basis. There are trace amounts of this chemical in treated lumber, some pesticides, and manufactured glass. It's also found in preservatives in many common foods, including seafood, poultry, rice, and bread. In some rural parts of America, arsenic is even found in drinking water supplies.

Coal, soot, industrial tar, asphalt, and paraffin waxes are among the many other substances known to contain chemicals that raise your risk of developing skin cancer.

You Have A Predisposition Or Weakened Immune System

Your condition may be related to causes beyond your control. If you have fair skin, blonde or red hair, or blue or green eyes, you automatically are more at risk for developing skin cancer than those with darker complexions and/or hair and eye colors. 

You're also more at risk if anybody in your immediate family has faced skin cancer in the past, or if you have any medical condition that weakens your immune system.

Certain medical procedures can also increase your risk. X-rays, for example expose your body to radiation. While your risk goes up with long-term, frequent exposure, most scientists believe that even a small amount of X-ray exposure somewhat increases your risk of developing cancer.

And, if you've had an organ transplant in the past, it's highly likely that the surgery contributed to your developing skin cancer. Since you were administered drugs to suppress your immune system at the time, your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma skyrocketed to between 65 and 250 times that of person who has not received a donor organ. At the time of your organ transplant, your risk of developing melanoma also rose to 6 to 8 times that of a person who has not received a donor organ.

Sometimes, it's impossible to pinpoint the cause of your skin cancer. What's important to remember, is that your prognosis largely depends on the promptness of your treatment. After your surgery, stay diligent with the correct techniques for applying sunscreen, and visit your dermatologist regularly to catch any recurrence in its early stages of development.