It’s National Melanoma Monday

Prevent MelanomaMelanoma Monday is a reminder by the American Academy of Dermatology of the importance of sun safety and skin cancer screenings. More than 70,000 cases of invasive melanoma are diagnosed in the United States every year, and nearly 10,000 die from the disease, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.  One of every three diagnosed cancers are skin cancers.

Golfers — who spend a lot of time in the sun — should be particularly aware. The majority of melanoma cases are white men over the age of fifty. Further, the worst times to be out in the sun are prime tee times: between 10 am and 4 pm. The risk of skin cancer doubles if a person has had five or more sunburns.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend the following actions to help prevent melanoma and other skin cancers:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

Sunscreens deserve some attention. I have to be careful because my skin reacts negatively to many brands. Fortunately, ingredients in various brands vary, and I have been able to find a few that work. The most important thing that people overlook is that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every couple of hours, especially if you are sweating (or swimming). You can’t just put it on in the morning and forget about it for the rest of the day.

Also, sunscreen needs help. A baseball cap won’t do anything for your ears or neck — or even for most of your cheek area. A wide brimmed hat is your best bet.

The PGA Tour has adopted the Skin Cancer Foundation as one of its charitable institutions.

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