At-A-Glance: July is UV Safety Month

undefinedThe sun’s rays are at their strongest during the summer when we spend the most time outside, leading to serious danger for our skin. July is UV Safety Month, a time when we raise awareness about the symptoms, risk factors and prevention techniques for skin cancer – the most common type of cancer in the United States.

How Many People Are Affected by Skin Cancer?

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of a lifetime. With two million new cases each year, there are more cases of skin cancer diagnosed than of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined. Currently there are 13 million Americans living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer.  Melanoma, although curable when detected in its early stages, is far more dangerous than other skin cancers and causes one death each hour.

Is Skin Cancer Preventable? How Do I Reduce My Risk?

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is a lifestyle disease. About 90 percent of nonmelanoma cases and 65 percent of melanoma cases are directly associated with exposure to damaging UV rays. With smart choices in sun protection you can greatly reduce your risk for the disease:

  1. Seek Shade: The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so be aware of your sun exposure during these times.
  2. Avoid Sunburn: If you’ve had five or more sunburns at any point, your melanoma risk doubles.
  3. Avoid Tanning Booths: People who make just four visits to a tanning salon each year increase their melanoma risk by 11 percent.
  4. Cover Up: Clothing is your first-line of protection against the sun, including hats and UV-blocking sunglasses. The more skin covered, the better.
  5. Use Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use an SPF of 30 or higher.
  6. Examine Your Skin: Self-exams should not replace an annual skin exam performed by a doctor, but regular skin checks can help detect early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any changes in an existing mole or discover new freckles or spots that look suspicious, see a doctor immediately.
  7. Schedule a Yearly Skin Exam: Skin cancers that are found and removed early are almost always curable.

Where Can I Learn More About Skin Cancer?

  • The Skin Cancer Foundation
  • American Cancer Society
  • National Cancer Institute
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