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May is Skin Cancer Prevention Month!
This May, the Sussex County Division of Health, Office of Public Health Nursing and the Sussex Warren Chronic Disease Coalition are encouraging you to learn about skin cancer.
When abnormal cells begin to grow out of control in the skin, it is called skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. More skin cancers are diagnosed in the U.S. each year than all other cancers combined (American Cancer Society).
UV rays are invisible radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. When exposed to UV light, the rays can penetrate and change skin cells. This exposure can cause sunburn, changes in skin texture, premature aging and skin cancer. There are various types of skin cancer - basal and squamous cell skin cancer, melanoma, Merkel cell skin cancer, lymphoma of the skin and Kaposi sarcoma. Visit https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer.html for more information about each type.
Protection from UV radiation is important all year round, but rays from the sun are the greatest during the late spring and early summer in North America. UV rays can reflect off water, cement, sand and snow. Indoor tanning also exposes individuals to radiation (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Anyone can get skin cancer, but there are certain features that increase risk:
- Lighter skin color or skin that burns, freckles or reddens easily in the sun
- Blue or green eyes
- Blonde or red hair
- Certain types of moles
- A family history of skin cancer
- A personal history of skin cancer
- Exposure to UV rays
Here are some ways to reduce risk of skin cancer:
- Wear clothing that covers arms and legs
- Wear a hat and sunglasses
- Stay in the shade during midday hours (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher
- Avoid indoor tanning
The most common sign of skin cancer is a change in the skin. A growth, a sore or changes in a mole are symptoms. For signs of melanoma, remember the "ABCDEs":
- Asymmetrical: Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape or two differing parts?
- Border: Is the border irregular or jagged?
- Color: Is the color uneven?
- Diameter: Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
- Evolving: Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?
It is important to regularly check your body for any signs of skin cancer. If you identify any changes to your skin or suspicious moles or spots, report to your healthcare provider.
For additional information about skin cancer prevention and early detection, visit:
American Cancer Society | https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/index.htm
Sussex Warren Chronic Disease Coalition | https://www.sussex.nj.us/sussexwarrencoalition