May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month

MBPCC, St. Elizabeth Hospital Partner to Offer Free Screening


With the Jambalaya Festival, swimming activities at the city pool or in backyards, and sporting events, there is never a shortage of summertime activities. But while having fun in the sun, protecting your skin is what will help you have many more fun summers ahead.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, says the American Cancer Society (ACS). Over the past three decades, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Though the most prevalent of all cancers, it is also the most preventable.

“Unprotected exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun, and tanning by artificial means such as tanning beds, damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer,” said Renea Duffin, vice president, cancer support and outreach, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. “The most startling fact of all,” she continued, “is that one severe sunburn during the first 15 years of life can double your risk of skin cancer later on.”

Following are some helpful facts to keep you sun smart!

  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB) with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 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 in the sun for more than two hours, and after you swim or perform activities 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 percent 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 – such as in a glove box or stored on a boat.
  • Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts.

Check your birthday suit on your birthday, recommends ACS. If you notice anything changing, growing or   bleeding on your skin, get it checked. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital are partnering to offer a free skin cancer screening on Thursday, May 30, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Medical Plaza II, 1014 W. St. Clare Blvd., Suite 1040, Gonzales.

This screening is 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. No appointment is required to participate in this screening. For more information call (225) 215-1234 or 1 (888) 616-4687.



About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a regional cancer care organization that has been fighting cancer for more than 40 years. With five centers in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Houma and Gonzales, its service area encompasses 18 parishes across southeast Louisiana.


About St. Elizabeth Hospital

Sponsorship by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS) has provided the means to expand and upgrade St. Elizabeth Hospital to meet the needs of the growing area it serves.  A 78-bed community hospital with 500+ team members and 100 physicians on staff, St. Elizabeth is one of four FMOLHS hospitals, including Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe and Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette.