Skin Cancer 411

The first step to fighting skin cancer is knowing about it.

Be proactive with yourself to fight skin cancer

There are a few important facts that make skin cancer unique among cancers. Take a look at this snapshot compiled by medical professionals, in case you need to act on them:

• You can see it: skin cancer most often appears as unusually shaped moles or discoloration on the skin. If you are aware of your normal skin markings you are more likely to notice new ones. Get to know your skin and watch out for changes. Ask your partner or friend to check out your back, too. Cancerous moles can appear anywhere on the body.

• You can help prevent it: exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or from tanning beds, significantly increases the risks of developing all types of skin cancers. Avoid tanning beds, cover up in the sun, stay out of the sun or use broad-spectrum sunscreen on all exposed skin.

• It strikes young adults: melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is the second most common cancer among those aged 15 to 34.

• It’s on the rise: while the rates for some cancers are declining, the incidence of melanoma has tripled in the past 30 years. Close to 80,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year, including about 5,500 with melanoma. An estimated 950 will die from it.

• Ask about new treatments: Health Canada recently approved a new treatment called Yervoy for advanced melanoma, the first one shown to extend the lives of patients. It works in a unique way by stimulating the body’s own immune system to fight the disease.

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