However, as people spend more time in the sun it is important to be aware of the dangers of skin cancer and to know the ways to protect against the sun’s harmful rays. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.
On April 6, the Mason County Health Department along with area physicians will conduct a free skin cancer screening clinic. The clinic is slated to take place from 3-7 p.m. at the health department. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the best way to prevent skin cancer is to use protective measures against the sun. The CDC recommends five options for sun protection, such as seeking shade, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when ultraviolet rays are the strongest and do the most damage. Other ways to protect include, covering up with clothing; wearing a hat to shade the face, head, ears and neck; wearing sunglasses that wrap around and block nearly 100 percent of ultraviolet rays; and applying sunscreen with a sun-protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher that protects against both ultraviolet A and B.
According to the health department, the two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell. Both types are highly curable. However, the third type of skin cancer, melanoma, is more dangerous. Approximately 65-90 percent of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light or sunlight.
The health department encourages others to check their skin once a month. Patterns of moles, freckles and other marks on the skin should be noted in order to identify any changes that might occur. Any unusual sore, lump, blemish, marking or change in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of skin cancer.
For more information on skin cancer or to schedule an appointment for the free screening, contact the health department at 304-675-3050. Skin cancer information also is available on the American Cancer Society’s Web site, www.cancer.org and the CDC’s Web site, www.cdc.org.