May is Skin Cancer Awareness month
The days are getting longer and warmer, which means more time in the sun. While that sounds like heaven to a lot of people, it can be dangerous without the proper precautions.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
Several types of cancer can form in the tissue of the skin. Melanoma forms in the skin cells that make pigment. Basal cell carcinoma forms in the outer layer of the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma forms in the flat cells that make up the surface of the skin. Neuroendocrine carcinoma forms in cells that release hormones in response to signals from the nervous system.
Melanoma is the most dangerous. According to the National Health Institutes, 68,130 new cases of melanoma were reported in 2010. Of those, 8,700 — or nearly 13 percent — resulted in death. Recent studies suggest women are more prone than men.
More than 1 million cases of the other forms of skin cancer were reported in 2010, resulting in fewer than 1,000 deaths.
The National Cancer Institute says that most skin cancers form in older people on parts of the body exposed to the sun or in people who have weakened immune systems.
While the sun isn’t the only cause of skin cancer, it is a major cause. And medical authorities say sunburns aren’t the only sign of the harm the sun’s rays can do. Tanned skin is damaged skin, they say.
Talk with your doctor about your risk, or if you suspect you have skin cancer. When found early, it can be treated more easily.
Symptoms of skin cancer:
• A small lump (spot or mole) that is shiny, waxy, pale in col-
or and smooth in texture
• A red lump (spot or mole) that is firm
• A sore or spot that bleeds or becomes crusty; also look for
sores that don’t heal
• Rough and scaly patches of skin
• Flat, scaly areas of the skin that are red or brown
• Any new growth that is suspicious
How can I?protect myself?
• Ask your doctor about your risk
• Stay out of the sun as much as you can, es-
pecially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• If you need to be out in the sun, try to wear
long sleeves, long pants and a hat that shades
your face, ears and neck with a brim all the way
• Use sunscreen that is broad spectrum or at least SPF 15
and can filter both UVA and UVB rays
• Wear sunglasses that filter UV to protect your eyes and
the skin around your eyes
• Don’t use tanning beds, tanning booths or sunlamps
Who is at risk?
Everyone is at risk for developing skin cancer. However, certain characteristics make the risk greater for some. They are people:
• With freckles
• With fair skin tones
• Who burn easily
• With light-colored eyes, such as green or blue
• With naturally red or blond hair
• Who spend a lot of time outdoors
• Who are more sensitive to sun damage because of skin con-
ditions or certain medications they take
• Who take medications or have conditions that suppress the
• With scars or skin ulcers
• Who have a personal or family history of skin cancer or
How can I find
skin cancer early?
• Talk with your doctor if you see any
changes on your skin that do not go
away within one month
• Check the skin on all surfaces of your
body, even in your mouth
• Watch for a new mole or other new
growth on your skin
• Check for changes in the appearance
of an old growth on the skin or scar
(especially a burn scar)
• Watch for a patch of skin that does not
heal; it may bleed or form a crust
• Check your nails for a dark band; check
with your doctor if you see changes, such
as the dark band beginning to spread