State warns of dangers from exposure to sun

We’re halfway through the summer, yet it’s likely not too late to remind the public about the risks of too much exposure to the sun.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is sharing some tips on ways to stay protected no matter what time of year.

Skin cancer is the most common type in the United States and the number of cases has increased over the past few decades, according to the American Cancer Society. The two most common types of skin cancer – basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas – are highly curable, the ACS states.

However, melanoma, the third-most common skin cancer, is more dangerous. A primary risk factor for melanoma is UV exposure. The ACS estimates Michigan will have 2,890 new cases of melanoma in 2018.

People are encouraged to prepare before going out in the sun by checking the UV index and lowering their exposure to UV rays whenever possible. Seeking shade, applying sunscreen and wearing hats and sunglasses also are ways to limit UV exposure and decrease the chances of developing skin cancer.

A note for the winter months as well: Tanning beds and sun lamps give out UVA and UVB rays that cause long-term skin damage and should be avoided. People who use indoor tanning booths are two times more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never used indoor tanning devices.

Skin self-exams should be done once a month to check for possible cancerous skin spots. The ABCDE rule is an easy method to help recognize a potential melanoma or another form of skin cancer:

– A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

– B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.

– C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white or blue.

– D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across — about a quarter-inch, the size of a pencil eraser — though the ACS advises melanomas sometimes can be smaller than this.

– E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape or color.

Any changes or new spots on the skin, or growths that look different from other moles, should prompt an immediate call to a health care provider. Detecting skin cancer early is the best way to have it successfully treated, the ACS advised.

For more information about UV rays and preventing skin cancer, go to the American Cancer Society’s website at https://www.cancer.org/healthy/be-safe-in-sun.html.

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