With over 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, skin cancer is America’s most common cancer.

Fontaine Glenn spoke with a local doctor on ways to protect your skin.

The month of May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and a UPMC Hamot plastic surgeon is reminding everyone to be aware of the dangers of too much skin exposure.

One way to protect your skin, avoid peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., wear SPF clothing, long sleeves and/or a hat. Always wear sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher, reapply the sunscreen after a couple hours, and even more often if you are by the water.

Skin cancer has been on the rise locally.

One UPMC Hamot plastic surgeon says he sees cases of skin cancer being treated in his office daily. While skin cancer is very preventable, it is also the most common type of cancer to be diagnosed. But most cases are very treatable.

“What you have to watch out for is if you have some mole which is changing or an area which just does not seem to heal over a period of time in an otherwise healthy person. That should certainly be something which should make up make you sit up and take notice,” said Dr. Jay Kang, chairman of the surgery department, UPMC Hamot.

In 2021, 106,000 people were diagnosed with melanoma; about 72,000 people died.

Many melanoma cases present as a benign dark lesion on the skin and is ignored, making it a silent killer.

“Yes, it does tend to spread. I can spread to the lung, it can spread to the liver, it can go all over. And sometimes by the time it’s diagnosed it may be too late. It’s true for melanoma, it’s true for skin cancer, like any other cancer, if you catch it early it’s very treatable, if you catch it too late sometimes it’s very difficult,” said Dr. Kang.

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