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Take steps to minimize your risk of skin cancer

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Broad-spectrum sunscreen can help defend your skin. [File art/Metro Creative Connection]
Broad-spectrum sunscreen can help defend your skin. [File art/Metro Creative Connection]

Melanoma is a potentially deadly form of skin cancer because of its ability to spread quickly to lymph nodes and internal organs. According to experts at the Stephenson Cancer Center, early detection is crucial to successfully treatment of skin cancers, including melanoma — the chief cause of skin cancer deaths.

Exposure to ultraviolet rays significantly increases risk for skin cancer. It doesn’t matter if the source is the sun or a tanning bed. Tanned skin is damaged skin, and damaged skin is vulnerable to the development of skin cancer.

You can’t control some risk factors, such as:

• Family history

• Multiple moles on your body

• Getting older

But, you can take steps to minimize risk. In addition to wearing appropriate protective clothing, a broad-spectrum sunscreen is the next most important weapon to defend your skin. Look for a product label that reads, “broad-spectrum” to ensure adequate protection from harmful UV rays.

Nearly 20 percent of Americans will develop skin cancer at some point.

About 76,000 new melanomas are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

Risk increases with age; however, melanoma is one of the most common and most deadly cancers in adults younger than 30, especially young women.

— OU Medicine

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