To the editor: Take care of your skin while out in the sun

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and Springfield Medical Care Systems would like to remind the public about the prevalence of skin cancer and the importance of prevention.

The American Cancer Society reports skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and The Skin Cancer Foundation reports “one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime, and nearly 50% of Americans who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once.”

The Vermont Department of Health Cancer Fact Sheet (February 2015) reports Windsor County incidence rates per 100,000 people for melanoma of the skin exceed the statewide average: 41.9 vs. 35.6 for men, and 28.5 vs. 23.9 for women.

Gerald A. Drabyn, MD, FACS, says, “Many skin cancers are caused by excess exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or other sources. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the common, and are most frequently found in areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck and arms, but they also can occur elsewhere. Melanoma is less common, but more serious than other types of skin cancer.”

He adds, “Daily use of SPF 15 or higher sunscreen can help reduce the risk of melanoma. The risk of developing melanoma increases significantly for people who have had multiple sunburns. Avoiding sunburns and proper protective clothing, broad-brimmed hats, and sunscreen are important steps for the prevention of skin cancer.” Early detection of skin cancer is important — when it is most treatable. If you have any of these symptoms, seek prompt medical attention:

  • Any change on your skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth (even if it has no color);
  • Scaly skin, roughness, oozing, bleeding, or a change in the way an area of skin 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; or,
    • A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain.

Always use caution when out in the sun, and protect yourself and your children from harmful exposure by practicing sound sun safety.

Springfield Medical Care Systems

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