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Florida Department of Health in Marion County encourages sun safety during Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

By Florida Department of Health in Marion County

May 07, 2018

OCALA, Fla.—The Florida Department of Health in Marion County recognizes May as National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention month and reminds residents and visitors to protect themselves from this most common form of cancer in the U.S. Although it is common, skin cancer is also preventable and highly treatable when detected early.

“Spending time outdoors not only allows you to enjoy Florida’s natural beauty, it can also improve your overall health and wellness,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip. “We are incredibly fortunate to live in the Sunshine State, but we should all use sun protection like broad spectrum sunscreen, hats and sunglasses whenever we’re outside to reduce our risk of skin cancer or melanoma.”

Two common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are curable. Melanoma is less common but is more dangerous and can sometimes result in death. These three types of skin cancer are mostly caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

“Protecting yourself year-round from harmful UV light is important, especially in Florida, where people spend a lot of time outside throughout the year,” said Florida Department of Health in Marion County Health Officer Mark Lander. “Fortunately, there are some easy steps that you can take to avoid risks.”

The department recommends protecting yourself and your loved ones from skin cancer by following the below tips:

  •  Make sure children avoid sunburns and overexposure to the sun.
  • Always use broad spectrum (blocks UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen or sunblock with an SPF higher than 15 if you are outside, and reapply every two hours or after contact with water.
  • Seek shade when the sun is strongest (between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
  • Wear hats and other protective clothing.
  • Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

The most common sign of skin cancer is a change in the skin—a new mole or a change in an existing mole, or a sore that doesn't heal. Doctors recommend checking your skin regularly to see if any moles or places on your skin have changed. Experts refer to the ABCDEs of skin cancer to help patients look for warning signs of melanoma.

  •  A - Asymmetry: Moles should look the same on both sides if you were to draw a line through the middle of them.
  • B - Borders: Moles should have smooth, even borders. Early melanoma can take on a scalloped or notched edge appearance.
  • C - Color: Moles should generally have a consistent coloring. Having multiple shades of a color or more than one color within a mole is a cause for concern.
  • D - Diameter: Moles that are benign are typically smaller than the width of a pencil eraser.
  • E - Evolving: Moles should continue to look the same. If they begin to grow, change color or shape, or experience other changes, it’s a potential cause for concern.

If you notice changes in your skin, you should consult with your health care provider. For more information about skin cancer and how you can reduce your risk, visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/.