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"Don't Fry Day" How to Take Precaution Against Skin Cancer

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National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, Facebook
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Last Friday was what the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention called "Don't Fry Day," raising awareness for skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States. Earlier last week, the Hopkins County Madisonville Public Library hosted a presentation by Kentucky Cancer Program Cancer Control Specialist Joan Lang. Lang speaks with Kate Lochte on Sounds Good about how to take precaution against and how to identify the signs of skin cancer.

If you're thinking about going out and having fun in the sun this summer, keep sun safety in mind, says Joan Lang. If you plan on going to the beach and having a good time, remember to take with you sunscreen labeled "water resistant" (no sunscreen is waterproof). The bottles will usually say 40 minutes or 80 minutes, which can be a good general guide for effectiveness, but if you go in the water or wipe yourself down with a towel, you're going to remove sunscreen and reduce effectiveness. Lang also recommends covering up when you're not in the water with loose fitting long-sleeves and pants and a wide-brimmed hat to cover your face, the top of your ears and your neck. Seek the shade, she adds, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

There are two types of rays that do damage: UVA and UVB - A for 'aging' and B for 'burning.' Both of these rays can cause premature aging of the skin, skin cancer and are always present. Starting in childhood, when rays strike the skin, they damage the DNA in the cells. The body will try to repair, but overtime people naturally accumulate more damage and more sunburns - putting them at higher risk for skin cancer. One in five adults are expected to develop skin cancer in their lifetimes, Lang says, and more than one type of skin cancer is possible to have. Melanoma accounts for 75% of all cancer deaths and rates are going up. It's the fastest increasing cancer that we have to contend with, especially among Caucasians.

If you catch melanoma early, then the five-year survival rate is in the high 90 percentile. It's easy to wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts. Lang makes the case that people say they feel cooler in the shade, so if you wear long sleeves or long pants you're keeping your skin in the shade and you will actually feel cooler as a result.

Check yourself regularly, have someone check your back. Remember to check the bottoms of your feet and your palms. If a sore seems like it won't go away, there's a chance it could be skin cancer. Dermatologists will know what to look for and what to do, and a family doctor can help as well.

Basel cell and squamous cell cancers tend to occur on areas that are chronically sun exposed: face, eyelids, head, hands, arms, legs, tops of ears. Those types will go down into your tissues. Basel cell can grow into bone. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and be fatal at times. Lang says it's a lot easier to have a few layers of skin removed than more done. The 'ABCDE' or melanoma is A: asymmetry where one part of pigment is not like the other part, B: border - an irregular border, C: color, where the spot in question can vary from one color to another, D: diameter, melanoma tends to be greater than six millimeters, E: evolving - when size, shape and color change over time.

Lang says to be sun safe year round. Skin cancer can occur whether it's summer or winter, sunny or cloudy.

Joan Lang is the Cancer Control Specialist for the Kentucky Cancer Program office in Madisonville. More about "Don't Fry Day" initiative promoted by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention at skincancerprevention.org. The other website Lang recommends is aad.org, a resource of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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