Up until a few weeks ago, it seemed warm weather would never arrive for the northern part of the United States. Thankfully, it seems spring (and in some places, summer) temperatures have finally arrived and even better, it looks like they are here to stay! However, along with longer, warmer days, comes a need to consider sun safety and the risk of skin cancer.

You may or may not be aware that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer since the majority of cases are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so now is a great time to think ahead about how you will protect yourself and your family from unhealthy sun exposure this summer.

little boy-wearing hat-on beach

Here at Liberty HealthShare, we strive to give members resources so they can steward their health and the finances of their fellow members. That's why we are invested in preventing illness before it starts. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends some simple ways to prevent skin cancer, from covering up with hats and sunglasses to using a broad-spectrum sunscreen each day. There is even evidence that dietary choices can impact your risk of skin cancer.

Regular skin checks are your best defense against skin cancer since early detection is essential to effective treatment. Skin cancer is actually the easiest cancer to cure, provided it is diagnosed and treated early. You should see your doctor at least once a year for a skin exam and also conduct monthly self-examinations. 

When conducting a self-exam, many people might not know whether they should be concerned about what they see. Thankfully, there are many resources available online that can help us recognize skin cancer. For example, the American Cancer Society website has a Skin Cancer Gallery that includes images and videos, along with instructions for doing a self-exam. A simple web search will return many more results along these lines, so make sure to use these free resources and, of course, consult your doctor with any questions you might have. If anything looks suspicious or you see any concerning changes during a self-exam, make sure to see your doctor.

This is the time of year when we will spend much more of our time outdoors. There is no reason we need to miss out on the many memories to be made at backyard pool parties, barbecues, and the beach, but we should do so wisely. It only takes a few minutes to protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun. Plan ahead and you'll be able to enjoy your summer, worry-free!