MedWatch- Take precautions this summer to prevent skin cancer from Medwatch 7 KSWO on Vimeo.

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Summer is getting closer and that means it’s time to start thinking about skin care. Skin cancer is a growing threat with more than one-million cases diagnosed every year. It’s a disease that is effecting more and more people, old and young.

Whether it’s warm spring temperatures or hot summer weather, i/f left unprotected your skin is at risk for sun damage or worse skin cancer.

“You need to protect yourself from sun, whether you’re inside with a window glass between you and the outside, it makes no difference. That light is the same light that is in the tanning bed. And it’s from sunrise to sunset. It’s not 10 to 3 like we used to think it is,” said Dr. Ross Hensley.

Local Dermatologist Dr. Ross Hensley says you can get skin cancer in areas of the body that aren’t even exposed to the sun.

“I’ve seen melanomas near the rectum. I’ve seen skin cancers near the armpit, I’ve seen skin cancers on the bottom of the feet. They can be any place. Sun is not the only thing that drives skin cancer. Genetics does too,” said Dr. Hensley.

Tanning beds are almost purely UVA light, which Dr. Hensley says is the kind that causes the most problems.

“Studies have shown that one session in a tanning bed increases your lifetime risk of melanoma by 20 percent. If you go more than once in the same year, it’s 2 percent additional. And that’s a lot,” explained Dr. Hensley.

Dr. Hensley says the only way to protect yourself is to either stay out of the sun all together or use a sunscreen. He says there are some things you need to know before buying a sunscreen.

“The amount of sunscreen you’re supposed to put on your face is a shot glass full. That’s an ounce and a half of sunscreen. If you did that you would use the bottle every week on just your face. So, nobody uses that much. We put about five times less. So, you really can’t say that a hundred sunscreen is a hundred. It’s probably more like a 20, a 30 is more like a 3 or 4. So you need to get a 70 or higher,” said Dr. Hensley.

Dr. Hensley says to look for certain warning signs when examining yourself.

“Things that are sore, or tender, or feel raw, feel like a sticker. Act like a pimple or in grown hair that won’t heal or keeps coming back to the same spot. And any mole that changes color shape or size, you should have looked at.”

According to Dr. Hensley, there is a melanoma patient dying once every 54 minutes in the U.S. That’s why he says, people need to take it seriously.

“The problem is it’s the old ‘it can’t happen to me’ syndrome, so everybody goes out and does all this stuff. You actually need the biggest protection in the first 25 years of your life. That sets you up for what you’re going to get later. And everything you get past that just adds to it.”

If you are concerned about something on your skin, and want to get it checked out, Comanche County Memorial Hospital is holding their annual free skin cancer screenings on May 6th at the Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center from 8:00 a.m. until noon. You can call 580-250-6565 to make an appointment.

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