For Immediate Release
May 5, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Are you ready to enjoy the sunshine after the long dreary winter? Do you think you are doing all you can to protect your skin when you are out in the sun? You should think again. Most people fall short in reducing their risk of getting skin cancer, a new study from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia claims.

“Skin cancer rates have increased enough in the past 30 years to give it the distinction of being the most common cancer in the United States,” said Paula Clayton, Director, KDHE Office of Health Promotion. “People need to take more precautions while spending time in the sun.”

Skin cancer can be prevented. Using the following tips to protect your skin from the sun now could decrease your chances of developing skin cancer later in life, not to mention helping to prevent wrinkles.

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, it is estimated that 550 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2008. Nationally, the estimate is 67,720 new cases and an estimated 11,200 deaths from 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 2008 and of the 11,200 skin cancer deaths each year in America, more than 8,400 will result from this type of cancer.