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In The Know: May Is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

SunBuddy Lotion Applicator - May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Given how aggressively media outlets have pushed awareness of breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer over the past few years, it is astonishing that skin cancer is actually the most prevalent cancer in America. If fact, the number of skin cancer cases diagnosed annually is greater than breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancers combined. Yet, compared to other common cancers, there is a lack of awareness for skin cancer.

Skin cancer is divided into the non-melanoma and melanoma categories. Non-melanoma, in the form of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, is the more common form with around 2 million cases diagnosed last year in this country. Melanoma, the more serious type of skin cancer, attributes to over 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths and is the number one cancer for the age group 25 to 29. One American dies of melanoma every hour.

Here are some staggering facts about Melanoma Skin Cancer:

  • Melanoma is on the rise more than any other cancer. Over 76,000 new cases were expected to be diagnosed in 2012  
  • Melanoma affects people of every age and every race  
  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime  
  • The incidence rate for children 18 and under has increased 84 percent from 1975 to 2005  
  • Skin cancer is highly preventable, but more than $2 billion is spent annually in America to treat it  
  • A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in April 2012 found that from 1970 to 2009, the incidence of melanoma increased by 8-fold among young women and 4-fold among young men  
  • About 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun  
  • According to the UCLA Skin Research Department, 78% of all sun damage occurred in a lifetime is from incidental exposure (i.e. walking to your car, driving in your car, walking your pet)

Summer is quickly approaching and here are some sun safety tips:

  • Sunscreen up. Wear sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 and generously re-apply every 2 hours. It's not about the SPF number, but about how often and how much you re-apply your sunscreen.
  • Cover up. Wear protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves if you plan on being outdoors for a long period of time.
  • Seek shade between the hours of 10am and 4 pm
  • Get Vitamin D through diet (fish) and vitamin supplements rather than through sun exposure
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Wear sunglasses to protect yourself against ocular melanoma
  • Perform self-exams regularly and learn the ABCDE's of melanoma. Visit your dermatologist annually for a complete examination
  • Don't forget your hands and toes – they need sunscreen too.