Beware the dangers of exposure to sun

The roller coaster ride of temperatures from spring to summer appears to be ending, with hot summer days right around the corner.

With the return of the summer sun, it is time for everyone to think about the dangers of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people diagnosed annually. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer.

About one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon, the Skin Cancer Foundation reported.

The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that the incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the cases of melanoma continues to increase at an alarming rate, even with the warnings posted by the medical profession. In fact, the incidence of melanoma is increasing at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Melanoma accounts for about 3 percent of skin cancer cases, but it accounts for more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths, the Skin Cancer Foundation reported.

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer for males and sixth most common for females.

Women 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.

The survival rate for persons diagnosed early with melanoma is about 99 percent. But the survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced stages of the disease.

Studies have shown that a person gets about 80 percent of lifetime sun exposure by age 18. Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young adults 15 to 29 years old. Reports indicate that one blistering sunburn during childhood can more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in their life.

Everyone needs to remember some safety tips to avoid sunburn and limiting exposure to the harmful affects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

Since most of a lifetime exposure to the sun comes early in life, it is important to protect infants and children and teenagers from blistering sunburns.

The most obvious way to protect yourself from harmful UV radiation is to stay out of the sun. Stay indoors or find shade in the middle of the day when UV radiation is strongest, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Plan outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon, when UV radiation is typically one-third of what it is at midday.

If you have to be outside in the sun, remember to cover the skin with long-sleeved shirts, long pants, wide-brimmed hats and wear sunglasses.

Another form of protection if you are out in the sun is to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 on all exposed skin. Apply the sunscreen at least 15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes, before heading out in the sun. Also, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends to check your birthday suit on your birthday. Seek a dermatologist’s help if you notice any changes in your skin.

As you head outdoors to enjoy the sunny skies in summer , remember to take precautions to avoid your chances of getting skin cancer.