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Skin Cancer 101: Staying Protected This Summer

In a college town, you don’t have to go very far to find a tanning salon. Many women frequently visit tanning beds to achieve sun kissed, glowing skin despite the fact more than one American dies of melanoma every hour in the United States. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with more than 3.5 million skin cancers diagnosed in over two million people annually, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Since May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, Her Campus IUP has some important info to keep your skin protected this summer!

Risk Factors

  • Unprotected and/or excessive exposure to UV radiation (sunlight or tanning booths and lamps)
  • Pale skin (easily sunburned, doesn’t tan much or at all, natural red or blond hair)
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Multiple/unusual moles
  • Severe sunburns in the past

Detecting Skin Cancer

One of the most common methods that doctor recommend as a self-check for melanoma is the ABCDE test.

Moles that have one half different from another half, or are asymmetrical

(A) have an irregular or poorly defined border

(B) vary in color from one area to another

(C) have a diameter greater than a pencil eraser

(D) evolve in size, shape, color or any other trait

(E) should be looked at immediately by a doctor

Signs and Symptoms

  • Any change to your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth (even if it has no color)
  • Scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or a change in the way a bump or nodule looks
  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • The spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
  • A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain

Prevention

  • Sunscreen: 30 SPF or higher- apply to all unprotected skin 30 minutes before exposure and reapply every 2 hours if you’re swimming/sweating/etc.
  • Wear a hat: cover your head to help keep your scalp, ears, and face protected
  • Sunglasses: put on sunglasses to protect your eyes and sensitive skin around your eyes
  • Avoid sources of UV light: including tanning beds and sun lamps that damage your skin and can cause cancer
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