SOLON, Ohio — Next week marks the start of Skin Cancer Awareness Month. And while the sun and its harmful rays might not be top of mind on these cooler April days, experts told News 5 they’re still seeing a rise in cases when it comes to those of a certain age who may not have taken all the precautions growing up.
“It wasn’t a big deal back then,” said Dr. Phillip Bernard with the Cleveland Clinic. “Parents are getting better about making sure their kids have sunscreen on.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, around 20% of all Americans develop skin cancer sometime in their life, and having five or more sunburns in your life doubles your chance of developing melanoma.
With so many putting off check-ups during the pandemic, Bernard now sees more developed cases popping up.
“I'm just as busy now as I was before the pandemic,” Bernard added. “A lot of them were people who stayed away and they have a lot of skin cancer we’re trying to catch up on. We can’t do it all at once, so we’re in the catch-up stage now.”
So how can you protect yourself from the sun and reduce your skin cancer risk?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends seeking shade, especially from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
They also recommend wearing sun-protective clothing, such as a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection, when possible.
In addition, applying water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin not covered by clothing is recommended, as is reapplying every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
“I think people in Ohio think it’s not a big deal because of the weather; it’s still a big issue,” Bernard added.
Experts at the Cleveland Clinic and the American Academy of Dermatology both told News 5 that everyone should look out for signs of skin cancers with the help of the "ABCDE" warning signs:
- A for Asymmetry: When you look at one side of a spot and it differs from the other half.
- B for Border: The spot has an irregular border that’s poorly defined.
- C for Color: Spot colors can vary.
- D for Diameter: Most melanomas are usually larger than the size of a pencil eraser, but some can be smaller
- E for Evolving: The spot is changing in size, color or shape.
And if a spot is bleeding, that could mean it needs to be removed immediately, Bernard added.