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Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting more than two million Americans each year. Unfortunately, the incidence of skin cancer continues to rise – it’s now estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. With the sunny summer months approaching, prevention and detection is increasingly important.

There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas make up 95% of all skin cancers and are highly curable. Melanoma is the third most common type of skin cancer and unlike basal and squamous cell carcinomas; it’s extremely serious. Although melanoma cases make up only 7% of all skin cancer cases, they account for 77% of all skin cancer related deaths.

Since ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a leading cause of skin cancer, it’s extremely important to limit and prevent harmful sun exposure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend covering up with clothing, wearing a hat and sunglasses, seeking shade when possible and applying sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day.

Though many people are aware of these sun safety basics, they aren’t aware of the risks and dangers involved with indoor tanning. Although UV radiation from the sun is the number one cause of cancer, UV light from tanning beds have damaging effects as well. Studies show that individuals who begin indoor tanning as a teen have a higher risk of getting melanoma and that each visit to the tanning bed increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

If detected early, it can be treatable. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you practice monthly head-to-toe self-examinations so that you can find and treat any cancerous or pre-cancerous growths. When doing so, be sure to look for asymmetry, changes in border, color and diameter and/or evolving growths, as these are all indicators of cancer.

If you find an unusual growth or have any questions or concerns, be sure to schedule an appointment to talk with your primary care provider as soon as possible.