This is the time of year when Vermonters, in particular, need to start being very careful about excessive exposure to the sun and its ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause skin cancer.
There is no such thing as a healthy tan:
About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. About 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. (http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts)
- In Vermont, melanoma is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in men and women, and we see a higher rate of incidence here than the rest of the U.S. While skin cancer affects people of all age groups, it is one of the most common cancers among individuals age 20-49. (View the EPA’s Fact Sheet about Skin Cancer in Vermont: “small state: Big Problem”)
Skin Cancer Is Preventable
The good news is that skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer.
You can reduce your risk for skin cancer by:
- Protecting your skin, and that of your family members, from UV radiation.
- Performing frequent skin self-examinations.
- Finding out whether you have an increased risk for melanoma and other skin cancers.
Slip! Slop! Slap!® and Wrap
The American Cancer Society’s awareness campaign for skin cancer prevention promotes the slogan “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap” which is a catch phrase that reminds people of the 4 key ways they can protect themselves from UV radiation:
- Slip on a shirt
- Slop on sunscreen
- Slap on a hat
- Wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes and sensitive skin around them
Teach Kids About Sun Safety
The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s SunWise Program is a health and environmental education program that teaches children and their caregivers how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun. Through the use of classroom, school, and community components, SunWise develops sustained sun-safe behaviors. Program participants receive free materials that facilitate cross-curricular learning about sun safety, UV radiation, and ozone science.
Teachers using the U.S. EPA’s SunWise Tool Kit for 1-2 hours yearly can spur increases in students’ sun safety knowledge and attitudes and small to modest improvements in shortterm sun safety behaviors.
Know the ABCDEs of Early Detection
Skin cancer can be cured if found and treated early. If it is not discovered or treated until too late, it can spread throughout the body and may be fatal. Skin cancer often appears on the trunk of men and on the legs of women. Learn your ABCDEs*, the changes in a mole or skin growth that are warning signs of melanoma:
- Asymmetry: The two halves of a mole do not match, meaning it is asymmetrical.
- Border: The edges of the mole tend to be uneven or irregular; they may be scalloped or notched.
- Color: Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, white or blue.
- Diameter: Moles are usually larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (¼ inch or 6mm),
- Evolution: Changes in the size, shape, color or elevation, or any new symptoms such as bleeding, itching or tenderness
For more information on skin cancer visit the following sites:
American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer
National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/types/skin
Skin Cancer Foundation: www.skincancer.org
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): http://www2.epa.gov/sunwise