NewsLocal News


Stock up on sunscreen, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Posted at 11:00 PM, May 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 09:14:34-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer; 1 in 5 Americans will develop a skin cancer in their life, according to the CDC.

“It is a common thing," said Dr. Jerry Miller, board-certified dermatologist with Prevea Health. "The good thing is, with early detection, early treatment, it can really nip this in the bud.“

The first Monday of May is Melanoma Monday, a day to raise awareness around the deadliest type of skin cancer. No matter who you are, everyone should be going out in the sun with wide brimmed-hats, protective clothing and sunscreen at SPF 70 or above, said Dr. Miller.

“It is more common in people who are fair skinned," he said. "It can occur in people of color. I have an adopted daughter, and she is Hispanic, and we still protect her from the sunlight even though she has more pigment in her skin. She’s still at risk for developing skin cancer later in life.“

Patty bastian has had a number of moles and spots removed.

“I taught outdoor swimming for many years of my life," she said. "Now I’m paying for stuff that happened 20, 30, 40 years ago.“

She and her husband now try to wear sunscreen whenever they’re outside.

“If we’re going to be outside for an extended period of time, there’s kind of an internal alarm clock that goes off," said John Bastian. "After half an hour or 45 minutes, you think about doing that.“

Most of our life-time exposure to ultraviolet light happens before we turn 18, and melanoma has become the number one cancer for young adults between the ages of 25 and 29, said Dr. Miller. He's even treated a patient as young as 13 years old.

“If you can protect your children or grandchildren, that will give them benefits for the rest of their life," he said.

It's important to get any mole or spot that looks concerning checked out, said Dr. Miller. Remember the A-B-C-D-Ee of melanoma:

Asymmetry -- does the mole have an irregular shape?
Border -- is it irregular or jagged?
Color -- is it uneven?
Diameter -- is it larger than the size of a pea?
Evolving -- has the mole changed?

“A lot of people were hesitant about going in and getting checked," he said. "Being fearful of COVID."

Being safe doesn’t mean you need to spend the rest of your life indoors, said Dr. Miller.

“Life is to be lived to the fullest," he said. "If you enjoy outdoors activities, please participate. It is one of the most enjoyable things one can do in life. Whether it’s golf, going for a run, sailing, please do it. But be prudent. You can’t totally eliminate your risk, but you can certainly minimize your risk by doing some very simple things.“

Even if you can’t see the sun shining or feel it on your skin, it’s important to protect your skin every day of the year, said Dr. Miller.