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skin cancerMay is Skin Cancer Awareness month, an annual SPOT Skin Cancer™ campaign initiated by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Dr. Bernard Gasch, a board-certified dermatologist at the Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery Portland, Oregon discusses the importance of prevention and early detection.

“An estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. On average, one American dies from melanoma every hour.  However, when detected and treated in its early stages, the five-year-survival rate for melanoma can be as high as 98%.”

Offering tips as to how patients can reduce their risk for developing skin cancer, Dr. Gasch stated this: “While there are a number of risk factors involved in skin cancer, exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the biggest culprit. One can decrease this risk by avoiding the sun, especially between the hours of 10AM to 4PM. If this cannot be helped, be sure you apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.  Also, reapply sunscreen frequently and liberally. One rule of thumb is to reapply every two hours or if you perspire, whichever comes first. Photoprotective clothing as well as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses offer an extra layer of protection.  Another option instead of purchasing new photoprotective clothing is to use a specific laundry detergent which adds SPF to your current clothing.   This laundry detergent (which is available at Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery) increases the SPF in your clothing to 30 (normal weave clothing has an SPF of 5 or less).

Commenting on the importance of this month-long effort, Dr. Gasch finishes with this: “While skin cancer is certainly a serious condition, it is almost always treatable when caught early.  We encourage patients to take a proactive role in their skin health not only during the month of May but all year long. If you notice any changing, bleeding, itching or suspicious spots on you or your partner’s skin, please schedule a comprehensive skin exam by a qualified Dermatology provider promptly.“