May is skin cancer awareness month

The first Monday in May is known at Melanoma Monday. A stark reminder that skin cancer can happen to anyone; however, with screenings and protection it can be preventable.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, the American Academy of Dermatology is asking “Do you use protection?” — encouraging safety in the sun. Although we look forward to the days we can bask in the warmth of the sun, the UV rays that penetrate skin are the most damaging to the epidermis.

UV exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer and most cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are attributed to that UV sun exposure.

Lifeguard Sunglasses

Dr. Briana Hill, Dermatologist with the Rapid City Medical Center, says, “Tackling that (UV) from all edges … wearing sun protective clothing … wearing a sun protector of 30 or better, reapplying and physical protection: hat /shade. Use your resources to stay out of the sun. It can not only cause skin cancer, it’s damaging your collagen and your elastin.”

The SPOTme Skin Cancer Screening Program is the AAD’s longest-standing public health program. Since its inception in 1985, dermatologists have conducted millions of free screenings with more than 30,000 suspected melanomas. Each year local dermatologists band together to combat skin cancer by hosting free melanoma skin cancer screenings, as they are passionate about prevention.

“Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer that we see in dermatology. We see 30 million cases of skin cancer in the United States each year and only 1 percent of that is melanoma, but 90 percent of the people that die from skin cancer are going to die from melanoma, so we take this very seriously,” says Hill.

To increase your chances of spotting skin cancer early, when it’s most treatable, dermatologists recommend that everyone check their skin for the ABCDE’s of melanoma, the warning signs of this disease. While performing a skin self-exam if you notice any new spots on your skin, spots that look different from others, or spots that are changing, itching or bleeding. To break it down even more: asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving. Make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist if any spot fits this description.

Skin Screening

Skin Screening

It’s important to see a specialist in skin care at least once a year if you are 18 years or older. Keep an eye on moles or lesions on children that grow faster than the child themselves. Bring any concerns to your pediatrician.

Dr. Hill recommends the lotion or mineral powder form of sunscreen and says if you are going to use an aerosol sunscreen, spray it into your hands first then apply to the body.

Dr. Hill is participating in the free melanoma skin cancer screenings on May 6 at the Community Health Center of the Black Hills.

For more information on melanoma, click here.

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