It’s once again Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, recognized May 1 – 31 each year. Bookended by Melanoma Monday, this year May 7, and Don’t Fry Day, the Friday before Memorial Day on May 25, the month encourages sun safe behaviors and skin cancer prevention.
Skin cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. with more annual diagnoses than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers combined. Cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are also on the rise. This year in Nevada it’s estimated 790 people will be diagnosed with melanoma.
“One in five individuals will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, some people in their teens and 20s,” said Cari Herington, executive director at Nevada Cancer Coalition. “But what people should remember is that skin cancer is very preventable. Protecting your skin from UV exposure through simple sun smart behaviors can go a long way in preventing skin cancer.”
Over-exposure to the sun’s UV radiation and use of indoor tanning beds are the primary causes of skin cancer, including basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, and melanoma. Nevada’s nearly 300 days of sunshine annually and often high altitudes create conditions that necessitate extra caution when enjoying the outdoors.
A good rule of thumb for skin cancer prevention is following the 5 S’s: “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide.” The campaign, a cornerstone of Nevada Cancer Coalition’s Sun Smart Nevada program, encourages people to:
- Slip on a long-sleeved shirt or sun protective clothing
- Slop on broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater, and re-apply every two hours
- Slap on a hat, the wider the brim the better
- Seek shade or shelter during peak sun exposure times, generally from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Slide on UV-protective sunglasses to protect the eyes
Nevada Cancer Coalition launched Sun Smart Nevada, and the youth program Sun Smart Schools, in 2015 to help reduce the number of skin cancer cases diagnosed in Nevada. The schools program is now practiced in six counties reaching more than 17,000 students and helps schools to establish sun smart policies, curriculum, and campuses. Sun Smart Nevada works to educate the community on sun safety and to place sunscreen dispensers for public use.
For more information on skin cancer prevention and detection, or the Sun Smart Schools program, visit SunSmartNevada.org.