Skin is In

May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month


The Cancer Program of Our Lady of the Lake and Mary Bird Perkins offers free skin screenings to ensure your most valued covering will last a lifetime

(Baton Rouge, La.) Skin cancer is on the rise, according to the American Cancer Society, which estimates that 1.5 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year. It is the most prevalent of all cancers, yet it is the most preventable.

“Unprotected exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun, and indoor tanning by artificial means such as tanning beds, booths or sunlamps put people at risk. We are seeing an increase in melanoma in the 25-35 age range due to the use of tanning beds,” said dermatologist Laci Theunissen, Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group. “Another startling fact is that one severe sunburn during the first 15 years of life can double your risk of skin cancer later on.”

The following are some helpful facts to keep you sun smart!

  • Check your birthday suit on your birthday, recommends the ACS. If you notice anything changing, growing or bleeding on your skin, get it checked. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.
  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher for adults and 40 for children. Apply at least one half hour before exposure to allow penetration.
  • Sunscreen wears off. Reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after you swim or do things that make you sweat.
  • Keep babies six months or younger out of the sun completely whenever possible.
  • Be aware that you can get sunburned even on a cloudy day. Eighty percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate light clouds, mist and fog.
  • If you work around concrete, you should know that it reflects 10-12% of the sun’s rays.
  • You can also burn while you’re in the water as water reflects an additional 5% of the sun’s rays back on you.
  • Teach children the shadow rule: If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest and extra precautions should be taken.
  • Check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but it’s even shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures like in a glove box or stored on a boat.
  • Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts.

During May, which is recognized as National Skin Cancer Awareness Month,The Cancer Program of Our Lady of the Lake and Mary Bird Perkins is offering free skin cancer screenings. Appointments are required; call (225) 215-1234. Upcoming screenings include:

  • Thursday, May 17
    Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
    4950 Essen Lane
    Baton Rouge
    6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 19
    904 S. Range Rd.
    Denham Springs
    9 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Screenings are for men and women 18 and older who do not have insurance and have not been screened for skin cancer by a physician in the last 12 months.

“It’s important that everyone be screened for skin cancer, but May isn’t the only time we offer this service,” said Linda Lee, administrator of The Cancer Program of Our Lady of the Lake and Mary Bird Perkins. “The Cancer Program offers skin cancer and other types of screenings throughout the year in various locations in our 11-parish service area. Don’t let location be an obstacle; we make it easy to be screened. If our May screening dates don’t work for you, we’ll help find a screening close to your area.”

The Cancer Program of Our Lady of the Lake and Mary Bird Perkins is the most comprehensive cancer program in the region offering patients the convenience of receiving high-quality, advanced cancer care in one location, close to home. The Cancer Program offers surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and has been accredited by The American College of Surgeons since 1992 – the gold-standard for community-based cancer care. This program is a participant in the prestigious National Cancer Institute (NCI) Community Cancer Centers Program (NCCCP).