The purpose of Melanoma Monday is to help people become aware of skin cancer — how to recognize it, treat it and prevent it.
It is currently estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Numbers like that make a world without skin cancer seem to be an impossible goal. But it is within our reach.
Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early. The five-year survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98 percent. Yet, sadly, one American dies from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, almost every hour.
Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma. You can have fun in the sun and decrease your risk of skin cancer.
Here are five ways you can prevent skin cancer:
1. Seek shade when appropriate
Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
2. Wear protective clothing
Wear clothing like long-sleeved shirt, pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses, where possible.
3. Generously apply a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
Apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more to all exposed skin. “Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
4. Use extra caution near water, snow and sand
Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
5. Avoid tanning beds
Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product or spray, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
For more information, The American Academy of Dermatology also has wonderful resources, this melanoma quiz on how to recognize and treat skin cancer helps and for more information on how to identify dangerous forms of skin cancer — follow the “ABCs” in the video below.