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May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Basics

Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Basics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017), “Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States”. Skin cancer is caused by exposure of ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, tanning beds or booths, and sun lamps. Melanoma is the deadliest and most dangerous type of skin cancer killing “an estimated 10,130 people in the U.S. annually” (The Skin Cancer Foundation, 2016).

Early detection of skin cancer is extremely important because if caught early, it is almost always curable. When early detection efforts are prolonged, the cancer can worsen and spread to other parts of the body. In addition, when this advancement occurs, treatments become more challenging to battle and can lead to fatality.

Skin Cancer Statistics and Facts 

  • 71,943 people in the U.S. in 2013 were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, including 42,430 men and 29,513 women
  • 9,394 people in the U.S. in 2913 died from melanomas of the skin, including 6,239 men and 3,155 women
  • it can take as little as 15 minutes for unprotected skin to be damaged by UV rays
  • even if you’re not sun burnt, simple color changes in the skin indicate UV ray damage, even tanned skin
  • anyone, no matter ethnicity or race, can get skin cancer
  • sun protection is still necessary on cloudy and cool days because UV rays are still present
  • the most common sign of skin cancer is a change in the skin, that’s why conducting self exams are highly recommended for early detection

Raising Awareness 

The month of May is National Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month with Melanoma Monday falling on May 2nd and Don’t Fry Day taking place on May 26th. It is important that we use this month to raise awareness within our communities to help educate everyone about strategies for prevention and early detection of skin cancer.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Skin Cancer Awareness. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/skincancer/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Skin Cancer Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2017). May Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. Retrieved from https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/MayToolkit2.aspx

The Skin Cancer Foundation (2016). Melanoma. Retrieved from http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma


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NWFCCC works to reduce the burden of cancer on area residents by increasing access to cancer information and services, by developing and implementing cancer control projects for the public and healthcare professionals, and by promoting awareness of prevention and early detection practices.



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