May - National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May 3, 2011 by Molly Huff
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually.  Nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma and 13 million are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer.  Many Americans do not realize just how common – and how deadly – skin cancer is.  With May being National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we would like to give you some preventions, risk factors and resources in dealing with this disease. 
 
By definition, skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells, most often developed on skin exposed to sunlight.  But this common form of cancer can also occur on areas of skin not usually exposed to the sun as well.  
 
Common risk factors of skin cancer include, but are not limited to:
  • Fair skin
  • History of sunburns
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Sunny or high-altitude climates
  • Moles
  • Precancerous skin lesions
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Personal history of skin cancer
  • Weakened immune system
  • Exposure to certain substances such as arsenic
  • Increasing age 
In addition to these risk factors, preventative measures you can take to avoid skin cancer include:
  • Avoiding the sun during the middle of the day
  • Wearing sunscreen of at least 15 SPF year-round
  • Wear protective clothing in the sunlight
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Be aware of sun-sensitizing medications
  • Check your skin regularly and report changes to your doctor 
 
As the weather gets warmer, and we are spending more time at pools, lakes, beaches and generally outdoors, please take care of your skin.  If you are concerned about your risk of skin cancer and would like to speak to a doctor, contact one of our physicians for a Dermatology referral.
 
To read more about skin cancer and to find out how you can get involved in National Skin Cancer Awareness month, check out this site.