Watch CBS News

Melanoma Monday: Tips to prevent the deadliest form of skin cancer

Melanoma Monday tips to prevent skin cancer
Skin cancer screening, safe sun exposure promoted on Melanoma Monday 03:00

As the summer approaches and we spend more time in the sun, skin cancer is also on the rise, making it more important than ever to protect yourself. 

As part of skin cancer awareness month, Melanoma Monday is recognized on the first Monday in May to raise awareness about the most serious form of skin cancer and ways to prevent it. 

Melanoma causes more than 8,000 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Elizabeth Hale, associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone and senior vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation, says skin cancer is increasing among all Americans, including specific rises in men and people of color.

"It's thought that about 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70," she tells CBS News. "We know that melanoma is most common in men and they actually have the highest mortality rate. It's thought perhaps men aren't as good about wearing sunscreen, about seeing a dermatologist and men often tend to get melanoma on their back where it tends to be most deadly."

Dr. Maral Kibarian Skelsey, dermatologist and director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington says, for people with darker skin, "melanoma can be diagnosed often very late," adding it's sometimes found in areas that are "not very often sun exposed."

The good news? It's treatable if caught early.

"Skin cancer is almost always curable when it's caught early, so it's really important to protect ourselves (and) get checked because early detection is key," Hale says. 

How to prevent melanoma, skin cancer:

The American Academy of Dermatology says the best prevention is wearing sunscreen and sun-protective clothing and watching for changes to your skin.

"If you have a spot on your skin that has looked the same your whole life and suddenly the edges might look different or the color changes, if the size changes, that's an important factor," Skelsey says.

Hale says it's recommended that every American above age 18 gets an annual skin examination.

"The thing that's unique about skin cancer — it's so common, but it's also so preventable," she says, adding about 90% of skin cancers are associated with sun exposure, which makes protection important.

"We recommend a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher, and it's important to think about sunscreen every single day. It's not just enough when going to the beach or pool because we know that some damage is cumulative," says Hale. "When you're outside, you want to reapply every two hours — even more if you're sweating or swimming. Getting people to wear it every day is the real goal."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.