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Check your skin: May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

GUNTERSVILLE — May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which serves as a perfect reminder to get your skin checked.

(Dermatology of North Alabama, 256 Today)

As we head into summer, it’s also a crucial time of year to take preventative measures against skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. With more than 5 million cases diagnosed in a year, skin care is something to take seriously.

Dermatologist Dr. Josh Wharton of Dermatology of North Alabama in Guntersville offers the following facts about skin cancer:

  • 1 in 5 Americans develop skin cancer by age 70
  • 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma
  • More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. then all other cancers combined
  • In the past decade (2012-2022), the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed annually increased by 31%
  • In the past two decades, melanoma incidence rose 20% among Hispanics
  • Squamous cell carcinoma incidence has increased 200% in the past three decades
  • Merkel cell carcinoma, a unique type of skin cancer, is 3.5 times more likely than melanoma to be deadly 
  • More than one-third of all new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority of are basal cell carcinomas

    (Skin Cancer Foundation)
  • Every hour, more than two people die of skin cancer

To cut down on skin cancer risk, these preventative measures are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is the strongest
  • Avoid tanning, getting sunburned and never use UV tanning beds
  • Cover up with clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher when heading outdoors for an extended period of time
  • Examine skin head to-toe once a month
  • Keep newborn babies out of the sun and start using sunscreen at six months of age


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