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Six tips to help prevent and detect skin cancer

Six tips to help prevent and detect skin cancer

Summer is synonymous with people trying to catch as many ultraviolet (UV) rays as possible. Everyone is outside enjoying the beautiful weather and all of the activities that come with it, like gardening, swimming, and camping. Unfortunately, over exposure to the sun can have many harmful effects, including skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in the United States.

The Heptner Cancer Center would like to share these six tips to help you prevent skin cancer:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10AM and 4PM.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as hats and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, and reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating
  • Avoid tanning, especially in tanning beds
  • Keep newborns out of the sun, and apply sunscreen to babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin, looking for any changes

One way to examine your skin is to actually inspect any moles you may have. Lots of people have moles on their body, and while most are harmless you should still watch for any changes as this could be a sign of melanoma skin cancer developing.

Luckily, The American Cancer Society provides a handy little guide to help you look for signs of melanoma. You can use the ABCDE rule to help monitor and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:

  • A - Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B - Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C - 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 - Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • E - Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

View the ABCDE graphic here.

So before you head outside this summer take an extra minute to practice one of the tips above. You’ll be doing yourself and your skin a huge favor.

The Heptner Cancer Center provides comprehensive cancer care for most types of cancer, including skin cancer. Radiation Oncologist John Stamato, MD, FACRO, treats skin cancer using radiation therapy. Learn more at www.cchwyo.org/cancercare or by calling 307-688-1950.