May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. Let’s use this month to raise awareness about skin cancer and help people take action to prevent it or detect it early – at home, at work and in the community.

An estimated 5.4 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in 2017, making it the most common cancer in the U.S. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

Skin cancers are either non-melanoma or melanoma. Non-melanoma skin cancers occur in either the basal cells or squamous cells and usually develop on sun-exposed areas of the body. These types of skin cancers are the most common and rarely spread to other parts of the body.

Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its color. Melanoma is usually curable when detected early, with a survival rate of 98 percent. However, those survival rates fall dramatically to 18 percent if the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body. In Alabama alone, more than 160 people die each year because of melanoma.

Skin Cancer Risk Factors

So what can you do to prevent and beat skin cancer?


Early Detection

Use the A B C D E rule to find a melanoma early:

The bottom line is that nearly all skin cancers could be prevented by limiting unprotected exposure to the sun. In addition to staying in the shade as much as possible, the American Cancer Society recommends the SLIP! SLOP! SLAP! And WRAP! method of prevention: SLIP on a shirt, SLOP on 30 SPF broad spectrum sunscreen, SLAP on a hat and WRAP on sunglasses before any exposure to the sun!

Dr. Brian Mathews


Article provided by Dr. Brian Mathews,
2017 Cancer Committee Chairman