Know the dangers of skin cancer

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Current estimates indicate that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and the American Cancer Society projects there will be 2,780 new cases and 290 deaths due to melanoma in Michigan this year. In an effort to reduce deaths related to skin cancer, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is recognizing National Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.

Most people are aware of risk factors for skin cancer such as indoor tanning, not using sunscreen, and not covering and protecting skin during peak sunlight hours. Despite this, over the last 30 years skin cancer rates have continued to increase nationwide.

“As the summer season approaches, everyone should remember that most cases of skin cancer are preventable if you take the right precautions,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the MDHHS. “Skin cancer can be disfiguring and even deadly, so be sure to protect your skin and check it regularly so you’re prepared to report any changes to your health care provider.”

Ultraviolet or UV rays, whether from the sun or indoor tanning, are the most common cause of skin cancer. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous for younger people. Those who begin indoor tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of getting skin cancer.

To lower your risk for skin cancer, remember to include the following tips in your daily routine:

– Cover and protect your skin including arms and legs

– Wear a hat and sunglasses

– Use sunscreen appropriately

– Avoid indoor tanning

– Stay in the shade – especially during midday hours

Researchers estimate that indoor tanning may cause more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year. Women younger than 30 are six times more likely to develop melanoma if they tan indoors. Learn more about tanning and skin cancer from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Burning Truth awareness campaign.

People who identify as being other than non-Hispanic white may still be at risk of skin cancer because of their skin type and may underestimate their risk. Some black Americans report being sensitive to the sun. Recent data showed low reported use of sun protection behaviors among Hispanics, and melanoma may be increasing among some Hispanic groups.

For more information about skin cancer, visit https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer.html.

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