This time of year, many of us will spend several hours or all day outdoors, whether it’s going to the pool, golfing, taking kids to the park, or working in the yard or on the farm. But with all this outdoor fun comes an increased risk and exposure to developing skin cancer. As part of our mission for quality health care, Power County Hospital District wants residents to be more conscientious to the growing rate of skin cancer in Idaho and to be more vigilant with following daily precautions.
The most dangerous form of skin cancer is malignant melanoma and the statistics on skin cancer are significantly higher for Idaho, given our small population. According to the most recent CDC 2019 incidence data, for every 100,000 people there are 30 melanoma skin cases reported and 3 people will die. Males rank higher than females at a 35.4 per 100,000 for new melanoma cases.
These statistics beg the question: why does Idaho have such high diagnosis rates for melanoma? The answer is a combination of factors. First, Idahoans are exposed to some of the most intense ultraviolet (UV) rays in the nation because of our high altitude and latitude location. Second, a majority of Idahoans are Caucasian, the group with the highest risk for developing skin cancer. Third, most Idahoans are outdoorsy, but apparently are not very good at practicing skin cancer prevention and seeking early detection.
Factors that contribute to an increased risk of skin cancer include: a personal or family history of melanoma, presence of moles on your skin, and whether you have received one or more blistering sunburns before the age of 18. Better DAILY sun safe practices are important to avoid increasing your risk of developing skin cancer. Parents should be more conscientious with small children, since they are most vulnerable. The common sense rules to protect your skin this summer include:
- Avoid the Sun! Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and check the daily UV index.
- Put on Sunscreen- Often! Use a daily sunblock with UVA-UVB protection and SPF 30+. Apply a liberal amount and rub in well before you go into the sun. Sunscreen should be reapplied every hour and remember sensitive areas- face, ears, bald areas, and lips.
- Wear Protective Clothing. Accessories such as a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long-sleeve shirts/pants, or swim shirts.
- Don’t Try to Tan. Avoid lathering-up with oils in the sun and don’t use tanning booths!
- Annual Skin Screenings. Depending upon your job or risk factors, you may need to do monthly and annual skin checks- consult with your doctor.
We encourage everyone in our area to also take advantage of our free skin screenings this summer, available at the Power County Family Clinic. Call 226-1057 to schedule your free skin screening appointments for June 21, July 19 or August 16. We hope everyone enjoys a fun and burn-free summer this year and don’t forget the sunscreen!