May is Skin Cancer Awareness month and Optimum Healthcare IT understands the importance of early detection. In partnership with the Polka Dot Mama Melanoma Foundation (PDMF), we work to help bring awareness to Melanoma and the importance of early detection. The Polka Dot Mama Melanoma Foundation funds research, raises awareness and educates the community about melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer.
1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. The vast majority of skin cancers are caused by UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds making it one of the most preventable cancers.
Each year, more than 76,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma – an average of one person every eight minutes. The incidence of melanoma has tripled in the last 30 years. Melanoma of the skin is one of the most common cancers in the United States – among the top 10 causes of new cancer cases.
The survival rate for melanoma depends a lot on the stage of the cancer. While the overall five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with melanoma is high at 97 percent, the survival rate decreases dramatically once melanoma spreads to other parts of the body. Patients with advanced melanoma have less than a 17% five-year survival rate.
How can you protect yourself?
- Wear Sunscreen. Make sunscreen a daily habit. UV radiation can still damage skin even in the winter and on cloudy days. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (protects against UVA and UVB rays) with SPF of at least 30.
- Wear Protective Clothing. Protect your body with sun-protective clothing, hat, and sunglasses.
- Avoid Peak Rays. Seek shade during the mid-day sun, when the sun’s rays are most intense.
- Don’t Use Tanning Beds. Indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma by up to 75%. Melanoma is the number one new cancer diagnosed in young adults (ages 25-29), and scientists attribute this trend to the use of tanning beds among this age group, particularly young women.
- Protect Children. Just one bad sunburn in childhood or adolescence doubles your child’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
- Monitor your skin for changes and any new spots
Melanoma does not discriminate. If you have skin, you can develop melanoma regardless of your age, race, gender or skin color. Early detection of melanoma improves outcomes and long-term survival.