July 1st, 2016
With summer fun in full swing, the last thing likely on your mind as you’re planning a weekend at the beach or a BBQ pool party is the serious side of spending more time in the sun: an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. And the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, is on the rise.
In fact, rates in the U.S. have doubled since 1982, and invasive melanoma is projected to be the fifth most common cancer for men and the seventh most common for women this year.
What makes melanoma so dangerous is its ability to spread throughout the body, says Steven Q. Wang, M.D., director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at Basking Ridge, New Jersey. While melanoma originates in the melanocytes—the cells that produce melanin, a protective, skin-darkening pigment—it can spread to internal organs quickly if it’s not detected early.
But the good news is, “about 70% of melanomas are picked up by patients themselves or family members and friends,” Wang says.