Monday, May 5 marks the annual “Melanoma Monday,” an awareness day created by the American Academy of Dermatologists to promote early detection and prevention for melanoma and other types of skin cancer. The day also helps to kick off Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, recognized nationally each May.
“Traditionally May is the time that people begin spending more time outdoors enjoying warmer weather, so it’s also an opportune time to remind Nevadans to protect their skin from exposure to the sun’s UV radiation,” said Cari Herington, executive director of the Nevada Cancer Coalition. “We see about 300 days of sunshine annually in Nevada, and regardless of whether it’s clear or overcast, or whether you’re spending 30 minutes or 3 hours outside, putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher should be a part of your routine.”
According to the American Dermatological Association one in 20 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, every hour. In Nevada it’s estimated that about 470 Nevadans will receive a melanoma diagnosis in 2014 and of those, about 70 will die from the disease. Skin cancer is caused by exposure to UV radiation either outdoors or through indoor tanning. (At left, a superficial spreading melanoma. Photo from CDC)
In 2013 skin cancer prevention advocates in Nevada celebrated a major success in reducing the threat of skin cancer from indoor tanning with the passage of Senate Bill 267 which bans the use of indoor tanning devices for minors under 18 and requires posted warnings and notices about the dangers of indoor tanning for customers. Melanoma risk increases by 75 percent in individuals who have been exposed to radiation from indoor tanning devices, and that risk increases with each subsequent exposure. Nevada was the fourth state in the nation to enact such a law, which took effect July 1, 2013 and impacts the more than 100 indoor tanning facilities.
A good rule of thumb for skin cancer prevention outdoors is “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide.” The health campaign, originally launched in Australia, encourages people to:
- Slip on a shirt or sun protective clothing
- Slop on sunscreen with a substantial SPF rating, at least 15 – 30 with both UVA and UVB protection
- 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 sunglasses to protect the eyes
For more information on skin cancer prevention and detection visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention skin cancer section online.