From the Harford County Health Department:
Bel Air, MD – May 20, 2015 – Gone are the April showers and in their place are warmer sun-filled days. May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month and the Harford County Health Department reminds the public, young and old, of the importance of taking necessary precautions.
Skin cancer affects all skin types and is the most common cancer in Maryland. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, approximately 1,410 Marylanders and 73,870 persons in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Unlike basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, melanoma is more likely to spread to other parts of the body and accounts for 75% of skin cancer deaths.
There is no such thing as a safe tan, since “tanned skin” is “damaged skin”. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and from artificial tanning devices (tanning lamps and tanning booths) is the biggest risk factor for skin cancer. People who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent. The Food and Drug Administration states that sunlamp products, including tanning beds and tanning booths, emit UV radiation that may cause skin cancer. Maryland law requires all minors under the age of 18 to have in-person parental consent before using a commercial tanning facility.
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 physician attention if they persist.
Skin cancer is highly preventable when correct steps are taken. Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds as both can increase your risk for the three major types of skin cancer. Generously apply sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 to all exposed parts of the body before sun exposure and reapply every two hours, especially after sweating or swimming. For prolonged time in the sun, wear protective clothing to cover your skin and protect it from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, including wide brimmed hats to protect the neck and scalp. Seek shade and avoid overexposure when the sun’s rays are the strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Remember, early detection is important. Ask your dermatologist or primary care physician for a skin cancer screening and get checked today. With so many options to limit overexposure to UV rays, melanoma is the most preventable cancer. For more information, please visit the Harford County Health Department Skin Cancer Awareness website at http://harfordcountyhealth.com/skin-cancer-awareness/.