MDHHS recommends reducing UV exposure to help prevent skin cancer

Published: Jul. 25, 2018 at 3:15 PM EDT
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July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is sharing some tips on ways to protect yourself all year round.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and the number of cases has increased over the past few decades. The two most common types of skin cancer – basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas – are highly curable. However, melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous. A primary risk factor for melanoma is UV exposure. In 2018, ACS estimates there will be 2,890 new cases of melanoma in Michigan.

People are encouraged to prepare before going out in the sun by checking the UV index and lowering their exposure to UV rays whenever possible. Seeking shade, applying sunscreen and wearing hats and sunglasses are also ways you can limit your UV exposure and decrease your chances of developing skin cancer.

Tanning beds and sun lamps give out UVA and UVB rays that cause long-term skin damage and should be avoided. People who use indoor tanning booths are two times more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never used indoor tanning devices.

Skin self-exams should be done once a month to check for possible cancerous skin spots. Following the ABCDE rule is an easy method to help you recognize if you could potentially have melanoma or another form of skin cancer.

• A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

• B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.

• C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white or blue.

• D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about 1/4 inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.

• E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape or color.

If you notice any changes or new spots on the skin, or growths that look different from the rest of your moles, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Detecting skin cancer early is the best way to have it successfully treated.

For more information about UV rays and preventing skin cancer, visit the