Nothing New Under the Sun
The month of May has been declared Skin Cancer Awareness Month. July has been declared UV Safety Awareness Month. August is designated as Summer Sun Safety Month. Clearly, in establishing these sun awareness months, health organizations are emphasizing the importance that they place on protecting our skin from the damaging rays of the sun, especially in summer. Our skin is our body’s largest organ, so it’s not surprising that skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer. Melanoma, an aggressive, invasive form of skin cancer, accounts for only five percent of the skin cancer cases diagnosed in the United States each year, but it is responsible for most skin cancer deaths. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are much more commonly diagnosed but pose less of a concern since they rarely spread to other parts of the body.
This may not be new information to many of us, but what may be new is a heightened focus on adopting better skin awareness habits. The American Cancer Society, the Skin Cancer Foundation, the American Academy of Dermatology and other important organizations are urging us to change our daily habits if we are not monitoring our skin’s exposure to the sun. This includes ACS’s advice to wear sun-protective clothing, hats, and swimwear; to use sunscreen and apply every two hours; and to protect eyes with sunglasses that screen out both UVA and UVB rays. This advice may not be new, but it is important. If we adopt safe sun habits, we can prevent skin cancer or find it early when it’s easier to treat. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, everyone needs to use sun protection, no matter their age, gender or race. Skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early – and that includes melanoma. It may not be a new idea, but it is good news. Make it an everyday habit to practice safe sun.
For information about UV Safety and other support services that ACS provides, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at www.cancer.org or contact the SCV ACS office at 661-298-0886 option 3.
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