Take a look at Arizona’s upcoming weather forecast. Sunny skies and rising temperatures….in fact, Phoenix is expected to reach 99 degrees by the end of the work week! Yes – summer is almost back, which makes this a great time to remind ourselves that May is “Skin Cancer Awareness Month.”
Dr. Terry Simpson, an Arizona surgeon who has experience removing melanomas, said Arizonans are at a higher risk for skin cancer due to the high amount of days with sunshine seen in the Valley.
“We’re at higher risk because we have more sun exposure, because we have a longer period of time with sun exposure, because we have less clouds and more sunny days,” he said.
Simpson also emphasized if it is caught early, melanoma can be removed easily with surgery. “It’s one of those skin cancers that can be removed pretty easily by a general surgeon, a plastic surgeon, or a dermatologist,” he said.
A recent headline in the Mojave Valley Daily News read, ” Summer fun brings increased risk of skin cancer.” The story included some sobering skin cancer statistics.
“Coconino County has the highest rate of new melanoma cases in Arizona while Gila County has the highest melanoma death rate. Melanoma diagnosed in Mohave County ranges from 11 to 16 people per 100,000 population compared to Coconino County with 21 to 25 people per 100,000 population.”
Gila County’s melanoma death rate is 70 percent higher than the national average! Click here or in the infographic below to view more facts on skin cancer in Arizona.
So many people in our state spend so much time outdoors, it’s easy to forget just how dangerous too much sun can be. According to a recent story in the Sonoran News, skin cancer prevention tips include:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Do not burn.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
- 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.
We’re not suggesting you should lock yourself in the dark for the next few months, but we do hope to use Skin Cancer Awareness Month to call attention to the particular challenges that face people living in our state. Raising awareness around key health issues is another way we hope one day reach our goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!