May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month
(Hammond) – Skin cancer is on the rise, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 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,” 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 protection) 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 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.
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.
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is offering a free skin cancer screening on Wednesday, May 16, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at the Center’s location in Hammond, 15728 Paul Vega MD Drive. 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 (888) 616-4687.
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.