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MAY 1st 2014

Skin Cancer Awareness: Facts, Stats And Prevention Tips

MAY 1st 2014
Skin Cancer Awareness: Facts, Stats And Prevention Tips

Summer is almost here! It’s time to stock up on sunscreen and read up on keeping your skin healthy and cancer-free. After all, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and, awareness matters.

To help you get a better understanding about skin cancer, here are some facts, statistics and prevention tips you should know as we get ready for sunny days and warmer weather across the U.S.

Skin Cancer Facts

The three major types of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (most common) and squamous cell carcinoma (second most common).

Melanoma affects pigment cells, which are deep within the layers of your skin. Basal and squamous cell carcinoma cancers attack cells close to the top layer of skin.

The top cause for skin cancer is UV ray exposure through direct sunlight and tanning beds, while light- to fair-skinned people are at the highest risk for developing skin cancer. Also, if you have more than 50 common moles – or if you have an atypical mole known as a dysplastic nevus – you may be at a higher risk for skin cancer.

To learn more about these three common types of skin cancer, click here.

Skin Cancer Stats

  • According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), every year, there are more new cases of skin cancer diagnosed than there is combined incidence of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers.
  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Every year, more than 3.5 million cases of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma skin cancers are diagnosed in the United States, according to the ACS.
  • According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the estimated cost of treating melanoma was more than $2 billion in 2010.
  • According to the ACS, Caucasians have a 24% higher lifetime risk of developing melanoma than African Americans do.

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen any time you go outdoors. It’s also suggested that you use a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA/UVB). And, if you’re going to be outdoors for a long period of time, use a water-resistant sunscreen that’s an SPF 30 or higher.

But, just using sunscreen might not be enough. You should also be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Try to stay in the shade, especially between the “hot” hours of the day – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Do not get sunburned. Studies have shown that sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • Please, stay away from any and all tanning booths (UV and otherwise).
  • Examine your skin for marks and moles each month, from head to toe. For melanoma, you can use the ABCDE rule so you know what to look for. You can also use these skin cancer self-exam practices from the ACS.
  • And, if you have a family history of skin cancer or concerns, talk to your doctor about getting a cancer-related skin exam.

Do you have any skin cancer prevention tips to share? Talk to us in the comments below. And, don’t forget to stay safe, cool and put on SPF 15 or higher sunscreen before you head outdoors this summer.

(Image via ThetaHealth.)