As summer begins to wind down, so does the sun exposure vigilance many people thought of as they headed into the season of beaches, sun and outdoor activities.
July was Ultraviolet Safety Month, but the fact is you can be exposed year-round and should take precautions every day to protect yourself.
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The number of cases continues to increase. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common types of skin cancer and are highly curable. However, the third most common skin cancer, melanoma, is more dangerous – with the primary risk factor being UV exposure.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services urges the public to prepare before heading out into the sun by checking the UV index and lowering exposure to UV rays whenever possible. To help protect yourself and reduce UV exposure, seek shade, apply lotions or sunscreen with SPF, and wear hats and sunglasses too.
Sun lamps and tanning beds cause long-term skin damage by giving out UVA and UVB rays. Those who use indoor tanning booths are two times more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never used an indoor tanning device.
In 2018, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be nearly 3,000 new cases of melanoma in Michigan.
With such startling numbers, the state department encourages you to do skin self-exams monthly to check for cancerous skin spots following the ABCDE rule.
- Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
- Border: Edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
- Color: Color is not the same all over and could include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white or blue.
- Diameter: Spots larger than 6 millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser) should be checked.
- Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape or color.
For more information, visit cancer.org.