For Immediate Release
May 4, 2011

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month

Over two million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, outnumbering all other cancers combined. In Kansas, as many as 12,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, including more than 500 cases of melanoma, with nearly 100 deaths due to the disease annually.

“An estimated one American dies nearly every hour from skin cancer,” said Dr. Bob Moser, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. To minimize the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure, protection from intense UV radiation should be a life-long practice for everyone.”

As warm weather approaches and millions of Americans prepare to enjoy the great outdoors, the risk for UV damage of the skin increases. The Friday before Memorial Day weekend, May 27, is “Don’t Fry Day,” dedicated to reminding everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors. No single step provides full protection from overexposure to UV radiation, so everyone is encouraged to follow as many of the following tips as possible:

People with the following risk factors are more likely to develop skin cancer: lighter natural skin color, although anyone can develop skin cancer; family or personal history of skin cancer; exposure to the sun through work and play; history of sunburns early in life; skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily or becomes painful in the sun; blue or green eyes; blond or red hair and certain types and a large number of moles.

“Fortunately, skin cancer is highly curable if found early,” added Moser. “The best way to detect skin cancer early is to examine your skin regularly and recognize changes in moles and skin growths. Changes in the size, color, shape or texture of a mole, the development of a new mole, or any other unusual changes in the skin indicate the need to see a doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible.”

For more information on skin cancer prevention visit http://skincancerprevention.org or http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/dfd.html. For Kansas cancer resources, visit www.cancerkansas.org.