For Immediate Release
May 1, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Protect Yourself from the Sunís Rays

May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

The sun’s rays beckon most of us this time of year. After being cooped up all winter, we are anxious to be outdoors and enjoying the sunshine.

May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. By taking a little caution before you step outside, you could prevent skin cancer as you age.

“Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States,” said Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “More than one million skin cancers are diagnosed annually in the United States, with more than 90 percent of those directly related to overexposure to the sun.”

Yet, everyone can take some common sense steps to protect themselves from the sun and prevent skin cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following skin protection options:

One in five Americans, including one in three Caucasians, will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime. Children are especially vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays and one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, later in life.

Skin cancer is classified in three basic types, basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. In Kansas, 513 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in 2005 and 93 people died of the disease.

More than 80 percent of all skin cancers are the most common type, basal cell. This type of cancer has tripled in U.S. women under age 40 in the last 30 years. Squamous cell skin cancer will be diagnosed in 250,000 Americans each year. Melanoma will account for more than 62,000 cases of skin cancer in 2006 and of the 10,700 skin cancer deaths each year in America, nearly 8,000 will result from this type of cancer.