HONOLULU (KHON2) – May is skin cancer awareness month.
According to Dr. Robin Matsukawa with Adventist Health Castle, skin cancer is the number one cancer in the United States.
The two most common types of skin cancer are Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas.
Melanoma, is the 3rd most common.
“Melanoma is dangerous and causes most deaths,” says Matsukawa.
“One American dies of melanoma every hour.”
Even though Hawaii is known for having beautiful, sunny weather year round, Matsukawa says residents are not at a greater risk of skin cancer as a state.
“Surprisingly, Hawaii has lower rates of skin cancer than many other states. It’s not among the top 10 states when it comes to new melanoma cases,” says Matsukawa.
To avoid skin cancer, Matsukawa has these tips:
– Do Not Burn. Overexposure is the most preventable risk factor
– Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Beds
– Use Sunscreen. Apply a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply at least every 2 hrs, and after swimming or sweating.
o Best to apply 30 minutes before going outdoors
– Cover up. Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with 99-100% UVA/UVB protection, when possible.
o Wet T-shirt offers less UV protection than dry
o Darker colors may offer more protection
o Baseball caps are popular among younger people but does not protect exposed areas
– Seek Shade. Most intense rays are between 10 am and 4 pm.
o UV rays, not temperature, do the damge.
o Clouds do not block UV rays, they filter them – sometimes only slightly
– Watch for the UV index. Pay attention to the UV index when planning outdoor activities to prevent overexposure to the sun. UV index predicts exposure levels on a 0 to 15 scale; higher levels indicate a higher risk of overexposure. If UV index is 3 or higher, sun protection is needed.
Here are some warning signs of skin cancer :
– New Growth or Sore that doesn’t heal, a change in an old growth
– Signs of melanoma
o A – Asymetrical
o B – Border (irregular/jagged)
o C – Color (uneven)
o D – Diameter (pea, pencil eraser)
o E – Evolving (weeks/months)
If you see any of these signs, Matsukawa suggest seeing your primary care doctor or dermatologist. “If detected early, skin cancer is easily treatable,” says Matsukawa.
To find a doctor visit http://AdventistHealthCastle.org or call 263-5400.