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Skin Cancer Prevention

The American Academy of Dermatology has set aside May to raise awareness about melanoma and skin cancer. An ounce of prevention can help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

Continuing with Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, it is important to discuss what you can do to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. As we discussed last week, Nevadans are at an especially high risk for developing skin cancers compared to surrounding states and a CDC study found that the melanoma death rate in Nevada is higher than the national average. In fact, from 2009 – 2013, there was an average incidence of 68,242 melanoma/skin cancer cases annually.

To top it off, Nevada has a state wide average of 248 sunny days per year! Compared to the national average of 205 sunny days per year, Nevada has an extra six weeks of sun annually. This means that annually, Nevadan’s are at a higher risk of developing sunburns due to increased exposure to the sun. Studies have also shown that occupation and recreation at high altitudes can also increase a risk of UV exposure and sunburns; and, with Nevada’s average elevation of 5,500 feet (high of 13,140 feet and a low of 479 feet), Nevadan’s are at a greater risk of sun damage/sun burn here as well. Considering that the average Nevadan is exposed to an extra six weeks of sun and lives at an elevation of 5,500 feet, Nevadan’s need to take extra precaution when it comes to preventing skin cancer.

So, what can you do to prevent skin cancer? Since the risk of developing skin cancer is so closely tied to skin damage and sunburns, the best way to prevent skin cancer is to:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

To learn more about Skin Cancer Prevention, Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, skin cancer, Nevada’s facts and skin cancer statistics, etc, please follow the links below: