May is Skin Cancer Prevention and Detection Month and skin cancer is by far the most common cancer in the U.S. There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. Melanoma is a less common but much more dangerous type of skin cancer. It is estimated that more than 91,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year. Per the American Cancer Society, in 2018, an estimated 850 new melanoma cases are expected in Kansas and an estimated 1,800 new cases are expected in Missouri.
Who is at Risk?
Everyone’s skin and eyes can be affected by the sun and other forms of ultraviolet (UV) rays. People with light skin are much more likely to have sun damage, but darker-skinned people, including people of any ethnicity, can also be affected. People with excessive exposure to light from tanning lamps, booths or sunlight are at greater risk for skin cancer. If a person has had severe, blistering sunburns, particularly in their childhood or teenage years, they also have an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
Many of the more than 3.5 million skin cancer cases that are diagnosed annually could be prevented by protecting skin from excessive sun exposure and avoiding indoor tanning. Nearly all skin cancers could be prevented by limiting unprotected exposure to the sun. The American Cancer Society recommends that you slip on a shirt, use 30 SPF (or higher) broad-spectrum sunscreen, and wear a hat and sunglasses before any exposure to the sun. When skin cancers do occur, most can be treated successfully if detected early, even melanoma.
Skin examinations can be part of routine check-ups. Everyone should know their own pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles and other marks on the skin so they can notice changes during monthly self-exams.
Key warning signs of non-melanoma skin cancers are new growth, a spot that is getting larger, or a visible sore that does not heal within three months. For melanoma, the most important warning sign is a change in size, shape, or color of a mole or signs that its border is becoming more ragged. Other symptoms include scaliness, bleeding, or change in the appearance of a bump or nodule; the spread of pigmentation beyond its border; or a change in sensation, itchiness, tenderness, or pain.
Skin Cancer Research
As of April 2018, the American Cancer Society is funding 64 research and training grants addressing skin cancer, totaling more than $21 million.
We know a lot about what causes skin cancer, but we’re still learning how best to prevent and treat it. Each year, skin cancer rates continue to rise. Research to discover the most effective ways to prevent and treat all types of skin cancer remains a priority for the American Cancer Society.
To learn more about skin cancer, skin protection and how to detect skin cancer, please visit
www.cancer.org/skincancer. It is your skin, wear it well!
Share your support for skin cancer awareness via social media on:
Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, May 1-31
National Melanoma Monday, May 7
National Don’t Fry Day, May 25
Visit the American Cancer Society – Kansas City Facebook page for skin cancer information during the month of May at https://www.facebook.com/ACSKansasCity.