May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and although many of us know the dangers of the sun, many people still continue to ignore the potentially damaging effects of the sun on our health. The good news is that skin cancer is one on of the most preventable and treatable of cancers. About 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 85% of melanoma cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. By raising awareness of the dangers of unprotected exposure and encouraging sun-safe habits, we can change behaviors and save lives.
Here are some statistics from Skin Cancer Foundation.
• More than 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer were treated in over 3.3 million people in the U.S. in 2012, the most recent year new statistics were available.
• More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
• One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.3.
• Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. An estimated 4.3 million cases of BCC are diagnosed in the U.S. each year
• Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 1 million cases of SCC are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, resulting in more than 15,000 deaths.
• It’s estimated that the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed in 2019 will increase by 7.7%.
• On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.
• Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50%.
Although these statistics sound scary, it is a good thing to remember that most of this is PREVENTABLE! Here are tips on what you can do decrease your risk of skin cancer.
• Stay out of the sun, especially between 10am and 4pm.
• Avoid sunburns by covering up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
• Avoid tanning, and never use UV tanning beds.
• Use sunscreen properly. Apply a generous amount (about an ounce) to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
• Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. Look for new moles or spots and moles that have changed in shape, color or shape.
• See a dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam.
Photo from here, with thanks.