May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. It's the most common cancer in the United States, but also one of the most preventable. Doctors say that's why skin cancer checks are so important.
Melanoma is the most invasive form of skin cancer with the highest risk of death. Dr. Philip Bernard, who specializes in Dermatology for Cleveland Clinic, said everyone should get their skin checked, especially people who love being outside, and people who have fair skin.
“I think it’s interesting that often times, the people who aren’t very fair skinned and who don’t burn are the ones who tend not to go and get checked because they say ‘Oh yeah, I get a tan very easily.’” Dr. Bernard said.
He said anyone can get skin cancer, and age doesn’t matter either. Dr. Bernard said it mostly depends on your family background and history of sun exposure.
To protect yourself:
- Avoid being out in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wear sun protective clothing when possible
- Regularly wear sunscreen that's SPF 15 or higher
- Check your skin at home
- Avoid overly tanning, especially in a tanning bed
“Tanning bed use will increase your chance of getting a Melanoma. So if you are young and spend a lot of time in the tanning bed, I think you need to think again about what is the best way to care for your skin long term and prevent that from happening," Dr. Bernard said.
If you notice any unusual moles or spots, Dr. Bernard said to make an appointment with a dermatologist to get it checked out.