PROTECT THE SKIN YOU’RE IN
Many people think that skin cancer is not a big deal. But the truth is that some skin cancers are deadly, and it’s important to detect all forms of skin cancer as early as possible and seek treatment. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month; take a moment to learn more about this often misunderstood disease and how you can assess and reduce your risk.
Skin cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in the U.S.
One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetimes. An estimated 99,780 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer— in 2022. In Maryland alone, an estimated 1,670 will be diagnosed with melanoma this year.
Anyone can get skin cancer. And if you’ve had it once, you’re more likely to be diagnosed again.
Although people with light skin are more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer, anyone can get it. Skin cancer in people of color is often found in hard-to-spot places like under the fingernails and on the bottoms of the feet. Cases in people of color are often diagnosed at later stages when treatment is less likely to be successful. People who have been diagnosed with skin cancer once are at higher risk for developing it again, so it’s important to remain vigilant and check your skin monthly for any changes.
Skin cancer is more common in men and in older adults.
Until age 50, rates are higher in women compared to men. After age 50, and overall, men have higher rates of skin cancer. This may be due to a variety of factors, including women wearing sun protection regularly as part of their daily skincare and makeup routines, men spending more time outdoors over their lifetimes and men being less likely to see a dermatologist.
Knowing the ABCDEs of melanoma can help you spot it.
“A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape?
“B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
“C” is for color. Is the color uneven?
“D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than a pea?
“E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed over time?
If you notice any of these signs, talk to your health care provider right away.
Skin cancer is highly preventable.
Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce your risk of skin cancer. Avoid the sun or stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; wear a wide-brimmed hat and clothing that covers your arms and legs; wear UVA- and UVB-blocking sunglasses; use broad spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher; and avoid indoor tanning. Check your skin monthly so you can tell your health care provider about any changes.
As a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, I encourage you to take steps every day to protect your skin and encourage others to do so as well. To learn more, visit www.stayskinhealthy.org.
Nicole Beus Harris is the spouse of Representative Andy Harris, M.D. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society.