Did you know May is national skin cancer awareness month? While it’s the perfect time to enjoy the summer weather, there are some things you need to know about skin cancer in Arizona and how to prevent it.
Skin Cancer Stats
The number of skin cancer cases is more than double all the cases of breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer COMBINED. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes. There are three main types of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma.
In Arizona, Melanoma is responsible for about 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths. And melanoma diagnoses are higher among men than women. About 171 people in the Grand Canyon state die of melanoma every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
How to Protect Against Skin Cancer in Arizona
With summer fast approaching, you might be wondering how exactly you can protect yourself from skin cancer. There are 5 ways you can reduce your risk of skin cancer in Arizona:
- Seek shade. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Schedule outdoor activities in the morning or evening. Avoiding the sun between these times helps you avoid the sunburns and sun tans that cause skin damage, which increase your risk of developing skin cancer in Arizona.
- Don’t use tanning beds. The lights used in tanning beds emit UV rays that can increase your risk of skin cancer. Instead, try a sunless tanning lotion or bronzer. Or embrace your fair (and safe) skin!
- Apply sunscreen and regularly. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. This will block ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours for maximum protection. Wondering which sunscreen is right for you and your family? Check out these tips.
- Cover up. Wear protective clothing like a hat and sunglasses. There are a also a ton of outdoor and athletic brands that make clothing and rash guards offering extra UV protection.
- Check your skin regularly. Examine your skin often for new skin growths, including changes in existing freckles, moles and birthmarks. Go by the ABCDE of skin cancer detection: asymmetry, borders, color, diameter and evolving. If something looks suspicious, call your family nurse practitioner or doctor.
Most skin cancer is preventable. Educate and protect yourself and your family, especially during the hot summer months when the UV index is highest. There is good news – our own FNP Laura Magoffie offers skin cancer screenings as part of her preventative and wellness screenings. If you have questions about skin cancer in Arizona, spot a suspicious mole or want a full skin cancer screening, book an appointment with Laura!