From the Harford County Health Department:
May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. The Harford County Health Department, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and partners, including the Maryland Skin Cancer Prevention Program of the Center for a Healthy Maryland, are educating Maryland residents about protecting their skin from both natural and artificial sources of UV radiation.
According to a medicare dermatologist expert, skin cancer affects all skin types and is the most common cancer in Maryland. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2014, approximately 1,400 Marylanders and 76,100 persons in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer, the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, the number of people with melanoma, particularly young women, continues to rise.
Melanoma skin cancers, which develop from the cells that produce melanin for skin color, are less common, then basal cell, and squamous cell cancer. Unlike basal cell and squamous cell cancer skin cancers, melanoma is more likely to spread to other parts of the body and accounts for 75% of skin cancer deaths. According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Burning Truth” initiative, melanoma is the second most common cancer in women between 20 and 29 years old.
Susan Twigg, Harford County Health Department CRF Cancer Program Coordinator, states, “There is no such thing as a safe tan. A tan is the skin’s response to injury. People can reduce their risk for melanoma and other skin cancers by avoiding tanning devices, limiting exposure to sunlight, especially between 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., wearing sun-protective hats, clothing, and sunglasses with UV protection, and using sunscreens and lip balms with a SPF of 15 or higher when exposed to the sun—even in cloudy conditions. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and from artificial tanning devices (tanning lamps and tanning booths) is the biggest risk factor for skin cancer. Scientific evidence shows that indoor tanning devices are ‘carcinogenic to humans’ and Maryland has acted to restrict tanning facilities usage by minors.”
Other major risk factors for melanoma include having a history of childhood sunburn, certain types of moles, fair skin, freckles, red or blond hair, and personal and family history of skin cancers. Spots on the skin that are new or that change in size, shape, or color may require a dermatology expert’s attention if they persist.
To learn more, visit the American Academy of Dermatology’s Spot Skin Cancer Program website at: www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer, the Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise Program website at: www2.epa.gov/sunwise or the National Cancer Institute website at: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/melanoma.