May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and here I will discuss this subject in more depth, and give you tips on how you can protect yourself and your loved ones, and help prevent this deadly disease.
The latest statistics from the American Academy of Dermatology show that skin cancer affects one in five Americans, and more than 1 million new cases are diagnosed each year.
Of these cases, more than 65,000 are melanoma, a cancer that claims nearly 11,000 lives each year.
However, if detected and treated in its earliest stages, melanoma is often curable with various skin cancer treatment options.
Studies reported by the American Academy of Dermatology have confirmed that sun exposure is responsible for the development of at least two-thirds of all melanomas.
Furthermore, it is estimated that 80% of a person’s lifetime sun damage occurs before the age of 18, a significant portion of which occurs during peak sun hours and in the summer.
Studies have shown that sunburn is often the result of incorrect use of sunscreen. Since people frequently apply only 20 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen, they only receive 20 to 50 percent of the SPF
UV exposure is greatest when the sun is highest in the sky between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It is also greatest in the summer, at higher altitudes, and nearer the equator.
And remember that up to 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate light clouds, mist and fog.
Follow these sun protection guidelines:
• Avoid outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest
• Seek shade whenever possible
• Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher
• Wear sun-protective clothing and accessories, such as wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses
• Follow the “Shadow Rule” — if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s damaging rays are at their strongest and you are likely to burn
In addition, I recommend that you conduct a monthly self exam to check for changes in moles, warts and other blemishes on the skin, especially areas which are exposed to the sun.
Detection is still the most important tool for catching skin cancer early—and treating it effectively.