May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May 21, 2018

Did you know that skin cancer is one the leading forms of cancer in the United States?  According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.  Most cases of skin cancer can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.  Sunlamps, tanning booths, and from the sun, can cause UV radiation. The most dangerous kind of skin cancer is called melanoma.  Studies show, a person’s chance of developing melanoma doubles with more than five sunburns.  It is important for Americans of all ages to be aware of the risks, dangers, and prevention techniques to avoid serious illness.

Skin cancer occurs when they body does not repair damage to the DNA inside skin cells, allowing the cells to divide and grow uncontrollably.  There are a variety of factors that cause skin cell damage, including genetics and skin type. But most cases of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) sunlight.  Skin cancer may appear as a dark spot, lesion, a wound that does not heal or a bump on the skin. The type of skin cancer depends on the cells that are damaged.

Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer

  • Avoid using tanning beds or sun lamps.
  • Stay out of direct sunlight for long periods of time, especially between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm. This is typically when the sun is the strongest.  Seek shade if you are outside.
  • Wear hats with wide brims, UV-blocking clothing and sunglasses.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and has broad-spectrum coverage for UVA/UVB protection. Reapply regularly if you swim or engage in an activity that makes you perspire.
  • Don’t burn! According to the CDC, sunburns, especially on children, have been linked to an increased risk of developing melanoma later in life.
  • Avoid tanning booths and beds that use concentrated UV light.
  • Examine your skin every month for suspicious spots and see a dermatologist for skin checks once a year.

With the sunny days of summer upon us, it’s important to be aware of the importance of sunblock and skin protection.  The Memorial Healthcare Cancer Center hosts FREE cancer screenings for those who are uninsured or underinsured throughout the year.  Please click here to visit our Events page for our next scheduled screening.  If you have a screening need prior to a scheduled screening, please call Stephanie Rowell, Social Worker, at (989) 729-4729 to discuss screening options.