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"Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap!" your way to sun-protected skin

Even though summer is not yet here, we all enjoy fun in the sun. But let's take precautions, because too much fun in the sun can be dangerous.

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Fortunately, most skin cancers are slow-growing, easy to recognize, and relatively easy to treat when detected early. Skin cancers may be classified as non-melanoma and melanoma.

Most skin cancers are classified as non-melanoma, meaning they occur in either basal cells or squamous cells. These cells are located at the base of the outer layer of the skin or cover the internal and external surfaces of the body. Most non-melanoma skin cancers develop on sun-exposed areas of the body, like the face, ear, neck, lips, and the backs of the hands. Depending on the type, they can be fast or slow growing, but they rarely spread to other parts of the body.

Melanoma skin cancers develop from melanocytes, the cells that produce our skin color. Melanoma is almost always curable when it is detected in its early stages.

Although melanoma accounts for only 5% of skin cancers, it is far more dangerous than other skin cancers, and it causes about 77% of skin cancer deaths.

Key warning signs of non-melanoma skin cancers are a new growth, a spot that is getting larger, or a visible sore that does not heal within 3 months. For melanoma, the most important warning sign is a change in the size, shape, or color of a mole or signs that its border is becoming more ragged.

Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap!

Nearly all skin cancers are preventable by limiting unprotected exposure to the sun. When they do occur, most skin cancers can be treated successfully if detected early - even melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Seek shade, and use the "Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap!" method of prevention:

  • Slip on a shirt

  • Slop on 15 SPF (sun protection factor) or higher sun screen

  • Slap on a hat

  • Wrap on sunglasses before any exposure to the sun.

    It is also a good idea to limit exposure to the sun during the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when sun rays are the most dangerous to the skin.

  • Web posted on Thursday, May 19, 2005


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