More than 65,000 melanoma skin cancers were diagnosed in the US every year. Melanoma can be disfiguring and even deadly; deaths increase with age and are higher for men than women. The disease is common and costly. The annual cost for treating melanoma has grown faster than all other cancers combined, and is costs nearly $500 million.
Sunburns and tans are the body’s response to damage from UV exposure. A tan is a sign of damaged skin. More than 40% of our population report getting sunburned every year. Multiple sunburns increase your likelihood of getting skin cancer.
A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in the appearance of a mole. Not all skin cancers look the same. A simple way to remember the signs of melanoma is to remember the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma--
- “A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
- “B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
- “C” is for color. Is the color uneven?
- “D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
- “E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?
Check your skin regularly for any of these signs. Talk to your doctor if you notice changes in your skin. These include a new growth or one that is growing rapidly, a sore that bleeds or doesn’t heal, a change in an old growth, mole, freckle or pigmented area. A change in the texture of the way the mole feels to the touch, or a freckle that is dark, dry or scaly. A new spot that is black, or any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma.
How can we protect workers while on the job? Wearing a wide brim hat helps protect the skin. We purchase only wide brim hard hats for workers. We also provide and encourage the use of nape protectors, those mesh flaps that cover the back of your neck. Workers should also wear sunscreen on exposed skin, at least an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher, and one that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Wear long sleeve shirts if working for long periods in the sun. Safety glasses will protect both your eyes themselves and the skin around the eyes.