Melanoma risk on the rise - May is National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
Do you believe a tan shows a healthy glow? Think again.
While most people know that sunburn is bad for your skin, even tanned skin indicates that skin has been damaged.
And this damage can be downright dangerous.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, whether from the sun or tanning beds, is the leading cause of melanoma— one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer.
Just the facts
Melanoma has been an increasing threat for more than 30 years. It is one of the most common cancers found in young adults, especially women. Here are some important statistics showing the dangers of melanoma:
• An estimated 76,100 adults were diagnosed with invasive melanoma in 2014.
• Melanoma will affect 1 in 48 adults during their lifetime.
• One American dies of melanoma almost every hour.
Recent population-based studies by the Mayo Clinic found striking trends in melanoma incidence between 1970 and 2009:
• An increase of eight times for young women (ages 18 to 39).
• An increase of four times for young men (ages 18 to 39).
• A 24-times increase for women ages 40 to 60.
• A 4.5-times increase for men ages 40 to 60.
You can take steps to control the largest risk factor for melanoma, UV exposure. “Early melanoma detection can also greatly increase the likelihood of successful treatment,” says Walid Baz, an oncologist/hematologist at the Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center.
Following these tips can help lower your risk of melanoma and other dangerous skin cancers:
• Avoid tanning booths and sun lamps.
• Seek shade when outdoors.
• Cover up outdoors with lightweight clothing including a broad-brimmed hat.
• Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and reapply every two hours, or more if swimming or sweating excessively.
• Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and surrounding skin.
If you’re concerned about your risk or would like to schedule a skin screening with your family physician or dermatologist, visit the Find a Physician section at www.arh.org for a provider near you.