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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

This news story was published on April 30, 2012.
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The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) joins local health partners and the CDC in reminding Iowans that May is Skin Cancer Awareness month. The rate of melanoma diagnoses in Iowa has more than tripled since 1975 and melanoma is now the second most common form of cancer for Iowans ages 15 to 29. About 82 people in Iowa die of melanoma every year.

IDPH urges Iowans to enjoy the sun safely this spring and summer:

UV rays are strongest during the midday hours (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Try to seek shade during these hours and remember UV rays can reach you on cloudy days, and reflect off of surfaces like water, cement and sand.
Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin.
Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
Put on sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and reapply throughout the day.
Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps.
Anyone can get skin cancer, but some things put you at higher risk. These factors include a lighter natural skin color; a personal history of skin cancer; a family history of melanoma; exposure to the sun through work and play; a history of sunburns early in life; skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun; blue or green eyes; and naturally blonde or red hair.

The American Academy of Dermatology designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday. This day is set aside to raise awareness of melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer, and to encourage early detection. With early detection, melanoma has a high cure rate. Examine your skin regularly for signs of melanoma. Consult your healthcare provider right away if any moles or pigmented spots show signs of the ‘ABCDEs.

A – Asymmetry – one half is unlike the other half.
B – Border – an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
C – Color – is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown, or black; or is sometimes white, red or blue.
D – Diameter – Melanomas are usually bigger than the size of a pencil eraser, but can be smaller.
E – Evolving – A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
For more information on Skin Cancer Awareness month, visit

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