Beach Blanket Cancer Bingo

Malignant melanoma prevention begins with assessing moles and wearing sunscreen

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello and the Big Kahuna did it best. Partying on the beach, surfing in the ocean and funning in the sun. But did these fun in the sun activities require adequate sunscreen application?

This year alone, more than 68,100 new cases of melanoma are expected nationally.Precautions such as avoiding sun exposure during midday hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and avoiding tanning beds and sun lamps all can contribute to the prevention of skin cancer.

"Early detection of melanoma is simple; follow the ABCD assessment:"

  • Check to see if the mole is Asymmetric.
  • Check for Border irregularity.
  • Check to see if the Color isn't uniform.
  • Check to see if the Diameter of a mole is greater than a pencil eraser.

Selecting an appropriate sunscreen is also important during beach outings. Dermatologist Julie Pena M.D., and CEO of Likewise Skincare, makes several suggestions when choosing the right sunscreen.

Pena suggests a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, but people also need to realize that SPF protects only against UVB rays, not the UVA rays.

The UVA rays penetrate on a deeper, cellular level in the skin while UVB rays cause sunburn and tanning. Both UVA and UVB rays contribute to premature skin aging.

The FDA has recognized four sunscreen ingredients that provide adequate UVA protection: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, ecamsule and avobenzone.

Pena recommends paying particular attention to zinc oxide as it not only creates a physical barrier to UVA rays, it also reflects them away from the skin. According to the American Cancer Society, more than two million new cases of skin cancer are discovered across the United States each year.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 20, 2011
Last Updated:
May 28, 2011