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Archive for Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Skin facts

January 17, 2001

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— About one in five Americans will get skin cancer during the course of their lives, largely from exposure to the sun. About 80 percent 800,000 a year are slow-growing basal cell cancers, like the one found on President Clinton's back.

If removed early, almost all skin cancers can be cured even melanoma, which is diagnosed in nearly 48,000 Americans a year, and kills about 7,000.


Warning signs

Only a doctor can determine whether an irregular skin growth or mole is cancerous, so consult one if you have any of the following:

A skin growth that increases in size and looks pearly or scar-like, translucent, tan, brown, black, red, pink or multicolored.

A mole that changes in color, size, shape or texture, or becomes irregular in shape.

A spot or growth that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab or bleed.

An open sore that lasts for more than four weeks, or heals and reopens.

Prevention

Limit time in the sun, especially avoiding peak hours, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater.

Avoid artificial tanning devices.

Keep newborns out of the sun and use sunscreens on babies over 6 months old;

Perform regular self-examination, including scalp, backs of ears, neck, and other hard-to-see areas; use a mirror or have a friend look at your back.

Consult a physician if you see or feel anything suspicious.

For more information

Call the Skin Cancer Foundation at (800) 754-6490 to get free literature or go to www.skincancer.org.

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