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This Month in Cancer Awareness

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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are easy to cure, but can cause disfigurement and are expensive to treat. Melanoma is the rarest type of skin cancer, but is the most dangerous and causes the most deaths. Most cases of skin cancer, including melanoma, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. To lower your skin cancer risk, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 4,270 new cases of melanoma in Texas in 2019, and that 420 Texans will die from the disease in 2019. (Source: American Cancer Society Cancer Statistics Center)

Photo of Family at BeachFast Facts About Skin Cancer

• Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes, but it can take as long as 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. Plan ahead so that when you’re having fun outdoors, you won’t forget to protect yourself from the sun.
• Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage.
• Tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays.

• Anyone can get skin cancer, but some things put you at higher risk, such as: 
     o A lighter natural skin color.
     o Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun.
     o Blue or green eyes.
     o Blond or red hair.
     o Certain types and a large number of moles.
     o A family history of skin cancer.
     o A personal history of skin cancer.
• Indoor tanning exposes users to both UVA and UVB rays, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer.
• A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, a change in a mole, or any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma:
     o “A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
     o “B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
     o “C” stands for color. Is the color uneven?
     o “D” stands for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
     o “E” stands for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?

Talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your skin.

Source: CDC Basic Information About Skin Cancer

Sun Safety Tips

Skin Protection

Check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UV Index before you spend time outdoors and plan your sun protection accordingly, using these tips:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
  • Use sunscreen with broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
  • Remember to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

Source: CDC Sun Safety


Last updated April 30, 2019