May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is melanoma awareness month, but it is important to be concerned about this disease year round.  Not only is melanoma the most common form of cancer for people aged 25-29 years, but one person dies of melanoma every 62 minutes.  While melanoma accounts for less than 5 percent of all skin cancer cases, it accounts for more than 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths.  

The risk for melanoma increases with exposure to the sun and UV rays.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation , a person’s risk for melanoma:

  • “doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age; and
  • more than doubles if the individual experienced one or more blistering sunburns during childhood or adolescence.”

UV radiation and the consequences that come with it can come from more than just the sun.  Individuals who indoor tan are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.  With an estimated 30 million people tanning indoors every year in the U.S. (of which 2.3 million are teens), this disease will become more common as years go by.

Always make sure to wear sunscreen when going outdoors and make sure to have irregular moles checked by a doctor.  If you don’t like the greasy feel or smell of sunscreen, opt for a product from a higher-end brand, such as Neutrogena.  It may be more expensive than regular sunscreen, but it will be a lot better than paying medical bills and a higher Wisconsin health insurance rate if you develop melanoma.

Enjoy the summer sun, but remember to stay safe!

-Sam

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