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Dermatologist: Take steps to protect your skin from cancer


As the weather warms up, people will likely be spending more time outdoors.

Medical professionals are urging people to protect their skin.

The American Cancer Society estimatesmore than 97,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs when the pigment-producing cells in the skin called melanocytes replicates too fast and becomes cancerous.

“The biggest thing you can do to prevent melanoma is seeking shade or protecting yourself otherwise from the sun. I recommend at least SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen. I love people adding sun protective clothing to that as well and seeking shade when the sun is brightest,” Dr. Stephen Lewellis, an Aspirus Board Certified Dermatologist.

Melanoma can occur within a pre-existing mole, but it can also occur on a new area of the skin.

Chronically sun-exposed areas are more likely to develop melanoma, but it can occur on any part of the body.

“This is why I always stress to my patients that early detection for this type of skin cancer is very important. Unlike some other types of skin cancer that are more common that can grow for years even before they become a big deal melanoma can be a relatively small spot on the skin and already have gone to lymph nodes and other organs of the body,” said Lewellis.

Skin cancer is highly treatable when detected early.

Lewellis suggests checking with a provider if you notice any new spots on your skin, any spots that look different from others, or anything that is changing, itching, or bleeding.

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