HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — When spring sunshine gives way to summer heat, more people spend time outside and are exposed to the sun’s rays, putting them at an increased risk for skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting one in five Americans. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that more than 8,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and one person dies from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, every hour.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of skin cancer and detect it in its earliest stages.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and the skin care professionals at Marshall Dermatology and the American Academy of Dermatology ask the public to make sure their skin is “Looking Good in 2016” by practicing skin cancer prevention and performing regular skin self-exams.
It is important to first ask yourself these questions about sun safety and skin protection:
- When was the last time you took a good look at your skin?
- Has it been a while since you’ve given it more than a cursory glance?
- What about those hard-to-see areas, such as your back or the top of your head?
“Skin cancer is highly treatable when detected early, so watch for new or changing spots on your skin and make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist if you see anything suspicious,” said Dr. Charles L. Yarbrough, a board-certified dermatologist, professor of dermatology and chairman of the department of dermatology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. “To reduce your risk of skin cancer and keep your skin looking good, make sure to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and stay out of indoor tanning beds.”
This Skin Cancer Awareness Month, make a commitment to skin cancer prevention and detection. Dr. Yarbrough offers the following tips to make sure your skin is Looking Good in 2016:
- Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.; if your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin. Apply at least 15 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
- Perform regular skin self-exams. Look for spots that are different from the others, and watch for anything changing, itching or bleeding. Make sure to check your entire body, and ask someone you trust to help you examine hard-to-see areas like your back.
- Look for the ABCDEs of melanoma. Examine your moles for the following characteristics:
- Asymmetry – One half doesn’t match the other.
- Border irregularity – The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
- Color that varies from one area to another.
- Diameter – Melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, though they can be smaller.
- Evolving – Look for changes in size, shape or color.
Contact Marshall Dermatology at 304-529-0900 to discuss any suspicious spots on your skin, learn how to perform a skin self-exam, and get more skin cancer prevention and detection tips.
For more information about how to prevent and detect skin cancer, including instructions on how to perform a skin self-exam, visit SpotSkinCancer.org.
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