Farmers, construction workers and other people that work outside for extended periods of time are encouraged to pay attention to new moles that appear on their skin, and to undertake a rigorous sun protection regimen.
The American Academy of Dermatology recently issued a warning to farmers, encouraging them to pay special attention to suspicious moles. Dermatologists report that farmers that develop the infamous ‘farmer’s tan’ are at an increased risk of skin cancer because of excessive exposure to UV radiation.
The president of the American Academy of Dermatology, David M. Pariser MD states that, “More than 11,000 Americans die each year from skin cancer, but when detected early, skin cancer has a cure rate of 99 percent…Since research shows farmers are among the least likely workers to receive a skin examination by a physician, it’s important that farmers perform regular skin self-examinations, which could mean the difference between life and death.”
Farmers need to look for moles on their back, scalp, palms of the hands, and also on the soles of their feet. Moles can appear anywhere on the body, and a thorough examination can be performed by a physician once every few months. Characteristics of moles that should be checked by a physician are: asymmetrical moles, irregularly shaped or scalloped moles, moles that vary in color, moles that are larger than the size of a pencil eraser, and moles that are changing in size, shape or color. If a single mole looks different from the rest, it should be checked by a dermatologist.
The American Academy of Dermatology offers a mole map online to help individuals keep track of their moles and changes over time. The mole map can be found here. Other ways to minimize skin cancer include seeking shade between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, wearing protective clothing, and wearing broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.