The continuous sunshine of Florida is one thing that draws residents and visitors to the aptly named Sunshine State.
Unfortunately, one consequence of our sun-rich environment is the need for an even greater vigilance for skin cancer, including the deadly form of melanoma.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s a perfect time to find out your risk for skin cancer. Here are a few facts about skin cancer:
- There are more diagnoses of skin cancer in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, the Skin Cancer Foundation reports.
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70.
- Skin cancer is on the rise among African Americans and Hispanics and among younger people. Although melanoma is more commonly diagnosed among Caucasians, it’s even
oredeadly among African Americans, according to 2016 research.
- Looking red? In Florida, 37.7% of white adults in Florida had at least one sunburn in the past year, the Environmental Protection Agency reports. The more sunburns you’ve had, the higher your risk for future skin cancer.
- There’s a five-year survival rate of 99% for early detection of melanoma. That decreases to 63% when melanoma reaches the lymph nodes and 20% when it reaches the distant organs.
So just how can you lower your risk of skin cancer? Here are a few tips to follow.
- Conduct monthly skin checks at home, and ask your doctor about regular professional checks. If you look at your skin regularly, you’ll know what is normal or abnormal for you, according to the American Cancer Society. Ask your doctor how often he or she recommends that you have skin checks from a health professional, such as a dermatologist. Some may recommend starting them at a certain age or once you’ve had a diagnosed skin cancer. If you’ve had skin cancer before, your dermatologist may recommend a check every 6 months.
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply every 2 hours and after sports or swimming.
- Cover up. It may be fun to show off that new swimsuit, but it’s not fun if your skin gets overexposed and you end up with a bad burn. Make use of wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and protective shirts, cover-ups, and shorts/pants at the beach or the pool.
- Avoid indoor tanning. This may seem like a safer alternative than baking in the sun, but it is also associated with a high risk for skin cancer. Several states even prohibit indoor tanning among those under age 18 because of its associated dangers for skin cancer.
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