Skin Cancer: One In Every Two Americans Will Get It

By: John Harding Email
By: John Harding Email

KKTV 11 News Anchor John Harding investigates:

It's the most common type of cancer, and if you live in Colorado, you have an uncommon risk of contracting it.

The dangers of skin cancer are as alarming as they are preventable. Yet, the rates of the most deadly form of skin cancer is increasing in the state.

Estimates suggest as many as one in every two Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The Colorado Department of Health and Environment reports melanoma rates, the most serious form of skin cancer, are nearly 40 percent higher than the national rate for Colorado men, and nearly 50 percent higher for women. In addition, statistical data shows the risk could increase by 20 percent for people living in El Paso, Teller and Douglas counties.

Possibly most disturbing, is the effect on our children. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 80 percent of the cancer causing skin damage occurs before the age of 18. Studies also indicate that a single, severe sunburn before the age of 18, may double the risk of developing melanoma.

Health officials urge parents and caregivers to protect children from the suns damaging rays, since the damage done today can lay dormant for decades, and develop in to skin cancers later in life.

Most cancers are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas that rarely metastasize and are highly treatable. Malignant melanoma has a high potential to metastasize and can be treated effectively when diagnosed early.

There are several ways to protect yourself and your family. These include limiting unprotected sun exposure during midday hours on sunny and cloudy days, using shade whenever possible, wearing "cover-up" clothing and hats, wearing sunglasses, and using sunscreen with SPF 15 or more. Health experts also suggest avoiding sun lamps and tanning beds.

Screening for skin cancer with skin examinations are highly recommended by health care professionals. The American Cancer Society recommends that everyone perform skin self-examinations at least monthly, and have a health care professional examine their skin as part of their routine annual check-up.

As seen on 11 News at 10, John Harding joined with health officials to experiment with an innovative technology that may help Colorado residents detect for and protect against skin cancer.

The Woods Lamp uses ultraviolet light and creates a scan, which is used to detect apparent skin damage.

The Woods Lamp is not considered a diagnostic tool. Its intended use is to expose sun damage not visible to the naked eye.

Memorial Health is teaming up with Peak Vista and several other health systems to offer a free screening by dermatologists Annual Colorado Springs Community Collaborative Skin Cancer Screening

Click here to complete your risk assessment

Click here to learn more about monthly self-exams

Skiiers: Click here to learn more about how to protect yourself on the slopes

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