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Six Shocking Facts about Skin Cancer

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May is National Skin Cancer Month and it serves as a good reminder to all of us to do what we can to protect ourselves. Skin cancer is on the rise, especially among young people. What makes the climbing statistics so alarming is that skin cancer is the most preventable type of cancer.

How much do you know about skin cancer? Here are six shocking facts.

  1. About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancer is caused by ultra-violet sun exposure.
    According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. There are two types of non-melanoma skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. These cancers almost never spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. They can, however, cause damage by growing and invading surrounding tissue. Always protect your skin from UV rays outdoors or exposure through windows and avoid using indoor tanning beds.
  2. Skin cancer accounts for nearly 50 percent of all cancers combined.
    Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for both sexes. Melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer type, is now the most common form of cancer in young adults 25-29 years old, and the second most common form of cancer in adolescents and young adults ages 15-29, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. Melanoma is increasing faster in females 15-29 years old than males in the same age group and the torso is the most common location for developing melanoma, which may be the result of high-risk tanning behaviors.
  3. One person dies from melanoma almost every hour.
    Most people don’t think about skin cancer being deadly. Unfortunately 8,000 people will die of melanoma in the U.S. this year; another 2,800 people will die of non-melanoma skin cancer. Protect your skin by using a sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher, avoid direct exposure to midday sun, wearing protective clothing and avoid using indoor sun beds. The World Health Organization estimated that as many as 65,161 people a year worldwide die from too much sun, mostly from malignant skin cancer.
  4. Anyone, regardless of ethnicity, can get skin cancer.
    While it is more common among people with a light or fair skin tone (one-in-three will be diagnosed), skin cancer can affect anyone. African Americans, Asians and Latinos and Latinas are at a lower risk of developing melanoma (one-in-five will be diagnosed) but it is typically more deadly for these groups.
  5. More than one million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year.
    Most of these cases are non-melanoma skin cancer, however melanoma incidence rates have been increasing for at least 30 years. In the most recent time period, rapid increases have occurred among young, white women (3 percent per year since 1992 in those aged 15 to 39) and white adults 65 years and older. It is estimated that nearly half of all Americans who live to age 65 will develop skin cancer at least once.
  6. Just one bad burn in childhood increases the risk of developing melanoma later.
    It may seem like a temporary irritation but sunburns can cause long-lasting damage to the skin and children are particularly vulnerable. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence can more than double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life. Protecting children against UV exposure is essential for healthy skin into adulthood.

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has more information on skin cancer prevention at http://www.skincancerprevention.org/skin-cancer/prevention-tips.

Lynette Summerill is an award-winning writer who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues for EmpowHER, her work has been seen in newspapers and magazines around the world.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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