CDC says melanoma numbers increasing

CDC says melanoma numbers increasing

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Arizonans hear it all the time .

Use sunscreen to protect your skin.

Unfortunately, new numbers show many people still aren't getting the message, and skin cancer is on the rise .

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the number of melanoma cases has doubled in the last 30 years in the United States.

The University of Arizona Cancer Center Skin Cancer Institute says white men, 50 and older, have the highest rates of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer.

However, the institute says there has been an alarming increase in the number of cases among adolescents and young adults.

"Some of the reasons for that is that they do get mixed message from society about the need for tanned looking skin and one out of every three young Caucasian women are still engaging in tanning behaviors. There's been a great increase in the use of indoor tanning," says Denise Spartonos, the Skin Cancer Institute's Community Outreach Coordinator.

That means the cases probably were preventable.

The institute is working to turn the numbers around, hoping each of us will be an "ACE."

"A-C-E. 'A' means avoid the sun during those peak hours of 10 in the morning and four in the afternoon. The 'C' stands for cover up and that's not only sunscreen, but it's clothing. It's a wide-brimmed hat. It's sunglasses that wrap all around. It's Chapstick for your lips that has a SPF. And then the 'E' is for examine because you want to check your skin once a month and look for any new moles or any changing spots that you might have," Spartonos says.

That's because those changes could indicate pre-skin cancer or skin cancer, and the sooner it's found the better the outcome.

Some people think being in the pool will protect them from the suns rays.

Spartonos says that's not true, "because the UV rays certainly come down at you, but they also reflect back off the water. So you're getting almost a double dose when you're in the water. Anything that's a reflective surface, like water, snow, sand, white concrete, is going to have part of that reflected back at you." 

Spartonos says sun damage is cumulative.

The damage you get today stays with you, and damage builds on damage.

She says it does matter which sunscreen you use.

She says it should be SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or higher and says "broad spectrum" on the label.

She says it should contain at least one of the following ingredients: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone.

Plus, Spartonos says we should to re-apply every few hours, especially if we're out in the sun or swimming.

For more information on the Skin Cancer Institute in Tucson and the programs available, click here

For skin cancer information from the CDC click here

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