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protect yourself from the sunWith the hot summer sun, skin cancer is no joke! Plus, who wants to look old and wrinkly well before their time? Probably no one! Over the past four decades instances of melanoma in individuals ages 18 to 39 have increased eightfold, according to information released by the Mayo Clinic.

It is important to remember that ANYONE can get melanoma. While melanoma is more of a problem in those with a fair complexion, melanoma is often more deadly in Native Americans, African Americans and Hispanics.

Regardless of your skin color or age, it is important to protect yourself. Here are some tips to help prevent melanoma as well as other skin cancers:

1. Slather on that sunscreen. When used properly, sunscreen is your first defense when it comes to protecting yourself from the sun.  It is important that you choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Remember to use enough sunscreen to cover your entire body. How much is enough? You should use at least enough to fill up one average-sized shot glass. Remember that sunscreen does not last all day long. Reapply your sunscreen at least once every two hours when you are out in the sun. Ladies, sun protectionprotecting your face on a daily basis is important. Remember to apply sunscreen to your bare skin before applying any moisturizers or make-up. Sunscreen is not as effective when it is applied over these items.

2. Avoid the tanning beds. Sure, a tanning bed can give you a quick  tan when the weather isn’t so nice but tanning beds are one of the main reasons for the rise of melanoma cases. Visiting a tanning bed more than once a month can increase your risk of developing melanoma by over 50 percent. Tanning indoors is worse than tanning outdoors. Tanning bed bulbs emit mostly UVA rays – which cause cancer but won’t cause you to burn. If you must have an indoor tan, opt for a tan out of a bottle or a professional spray tan.

3. Know your family history. When it comes to preventing and early detection of melanoma understanding what is in your DNA is very important. According to the American Cancer Society, about 10 percent of individuals diagnosed with melanoma have a family history of the disease. If  there is a history of melanoma in your family, you should have a full body check by a dermatologist once or twice a year. You should also ask your doctor how often you should be screened if you yourself have ever had a form of skin cancer or precancerous spots.

This chart isn’t for the faint at heart, but it may save your life!

Symptoms of Melanoma:

Know Your “ABCDE”

  • Asymmetry: The shape of one half does not match the other half.
  • Border that is irregular: The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
  • Color that is uneven: Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
  • Diameter: There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than the size of a pea (larger than 6 millimeters or about 1/4 inch).
  • Evolving: The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.

Types of Skin Cancer:

Melanoma: Melanoma starts in the melanocytes or pigment cells of the skin. This type of skin cancer can occur on any area of the skin. In men, melanoma is commonly found on the head, neck, shoulders and hips. In women, melonoma often found on the skin on the lower legs or between the shoulders and the hips. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. This is because melanoma is the most common form of skin cancer to invade other tissues and regions of the body.

Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cell layer of the skin. It usually occurs in areas of the body that are commonly exposed to the sun.. The face is the most common area of the body to find basal cell skin cancer. This type of skin cancer is the most common form of skin cancer.

Squamous cell Carcinoma: Squamous cell skin cancer begins in squamous cells. In individuals who are dark-skinned, squamous cell skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer, and it’s usually found in places that are not often exposed to the sun.

Risk Factors:

  • Family History
  • Use of tanning beds
  • Burning easily in the sun
  • Personal history (if you’ve had one skin cancer, you are much more likely to develop a second occurrence of skin cancer).

While tan may look better, staying pale is much more likely to keep you healthier.