Today is Melanoma Monday

Melanoma Monday is observed on the first Monday in May, and is known around the world as a day of raising skin cancer awareness about the early detection and prevention of melanoma; the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun is a cause of most skin cancers, including melanoma. Each year 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada, making it the most common type of cancer. Canadians are spending more time in the sun without improving their sun protection behaviors. People under the age of 18 are at the highest risk, and children and youth spend more time outside than adults do. Only one blistering sunburn before the age of 18 can double a person’s chances of developing melanoma.

Public health officials say you can protect your skin and eyes from the sun by developing habits to practice sun protection behaviors, including:

Limit time in the sun when the UV index is 3 or higher, usually between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Seek shade or make shade by using an umbrella, a UV protective tent or pop-up shade shelter.
Wear clothes that cover as much skin as possible or UV-protective clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat;
Apply plenty of sunscreen with SPF 30 or more, labelled ‘broad spectrum’ and ‘water resistant’. Reapply after swimming, sweating, or toweling. Use a sunscreen lip balm.
Wear close fitting/wrap-around sunglasses with UV 400 or 100% UV protection.
Avoid indoor tanning equipment.
Melanoma can develop in weeks or months, or take years. It can look like as a new mole or freckle-like spot on the skin, or develop in an existing mole. The most common place for melanoma in men is on the back and, in women, the leg. It can also appear on the arm, scalp or face. While less common in darker-skinned people, melanoma can appear on the soles of the feet, toenails and palms of the hands.

The ABCDEs of melanoma will help you to detect this disease. Look for these signs:

Asymmetry – the shape on one side is different from that on the other side
Border – the border or visible edge is irregular, ragged, and imprecise
Color – there is variation, with brown, black, red, grey or white
Diameter – growth is typical of melanoma. It can measure more than 6mm, although it can be less
Evolution – look for change in color, size, shape or symptom, such as itching, tenderness or bleeding
Suspicious spots; check your skin once a month. Take action if you see any.

For more information contact Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit or visit the following websites:

www.mycanceriq.ca, www.dermatology.ca, www.newfamilyrule.com

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