Avera Medical Minute: Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 2:42 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Chances are you have probably felt the warmth of the sun for at least one or two days so far in May. There is also a good chance your skin has reacted to the rays of sunlight too. For 1/5 Americans, it contributes to the development of skin cancer, and something Avera Medical Group Dermatologist Dr. Wesley Fletcher sees every day. Behavioral and physical protection keep us safe such as seeking shade, avoiding the sun when it is at its highest point, and of course, using sunscreen. Dr. Fletcher also says light, loose-fitting, and reflective clothing will go a long way.

“If you are in the water or engaging in a sweaty activity, try to use SPF 50 and try to reapply every two to three hours,” Dr. Fletcher said.

There are different forms of skin cancer such as basal and squamous cell skin cancers which are non-melanoma. They are common in South Dakota and common for people that have a history of being outdoors, particularly without sun protection. Melanoma skin cancers can be very dangerous, and doctors screen for them by identifying moles or assessing family history of Melanoma. Dr. Fletcher says if these features bleed, change, or grow. When Melanoma is caught early, patients have about a 92% five-year survival rate. Once it spreads, the survival rate decreases drastically.

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