Safe fun in the sun
Incidents of skin cancer on the rise
Staff Reports, Hartselle Enquirer
It's almost summer time and people are getting ready to head out and enjoy the great outdoors.
While it's nice to be outside, there's downside, too. Each year, at least 54,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the United States, including more than 900 people in Alabama. Nationally, at least 9,800 will die because of skin cancer.
The Alabama Department of Health cautions the public to follow skin protection rules.
Brooke Thorington, public health educator with the health department's Cancer Prevention Division, said it is a common misconception that only people with light skin need to protect themselves from the sun.
"People of every skin color and type, no matter what age, need to follow the rules of skin protection," Thorington said.
Practicing skin self-examination on a regular basis is the best way to find skin cancer early.
You should see a health professional about any changes on the skin, such as size or color of a mole or other dark spot; scaliness; oozing, bleeding or change in the look of a bump; or a change in feeling, tenderness, itching or pain.
A form of skin cancer called melanoma causes the majority of skin cancer deaths. Painful, blistering sunburns received as a child or adolescent has been linked to melanoma later in life, so young people should pay special attention to skin protection.
Once melanoma begins to develop, it can spread quickly.
Two other forms of skin cancer, basal and squamous cell carcinomas, can both be disfiguring if not property treated.
Risk factors that may increase one's chances of getting some form of skin cancer include overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds; family history of skin cancer; and working around coal, tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds or radium.
And while tanning is promoted as a way of becoming beautiful, it actually harms the skin and may eventually lead to skin cancer.
Sunglasses without both UVA and UVB protection can be dangerous because they allow pupils to dilate because of the shade, but the eyes can still receive damage.