While it's never too late to help prevent further damage and lower your skin cancer risk, sunburns early in life can cause skin cancer in later years. Damage caused by the sun's rays is cumulative, spanning your entire lifetime in the sun. With that in mind, it's probably not surprising that cases of skin cancer among seniors are more common than in younger people.
In fact, research indicates that over 50% of deaths associated with skin cancer occur in people over age 65. And current sun exposure further harms "old" sun damage, inhibiting the skin's ability to protect itself from cancer. It may also become harder to detect clues of cancer on your skin because of wrinkles, decreased elasticity, age spots, dryness and other skin conditions.
As a person ages, being proactive in detecting skin cancer is key. It's a good idea to perform regular self examinations of moles and other spots on your skin. If you notice signs of moles that are raised, change in shape, have jagged edges, discolorations, or signs of bleeding, call your doctor. And as an added precaution, take time to schedule a yearly appointment with your healthcare professional.
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This article first appeared in the May 2015 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.