June 1-7 is Sun Safety Week. It’s a great time to start thinking about how you’re protecting yourself while enjoying Delmarva’s beautiful beaches and abundant nature. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime ─ and those rates are higher on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“The key to successful treatment of most types of skin cancer is early detection and treatment,” said Thomas M. DeMarco, MD, Medical Director of the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute.
The good news: The American Academy of Dermatology says the five-year survival rate for people with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is 98 percent when their cancer is detected and treated before it spreads.
Protect yourself from harmful UV rays by using a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Wide-brimmed hats and skin-protectant clothing can also help. Seek shade when you can, especially when the sun’s rays are most intense, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Avoid tanning beds, which pose similar risks.
Skin self-examinations are a good first step to early detection. Periodically examine your body for any changes in color, shape or texture of a mole, the development of a new mole or any other unusual changes in the skin. Any of these signs should be reported to a dermatologist right away. If you are at higher risk for melanoma, your primary care doctor may suggest annual skin screenings by a dermatologist.