Most of the more than 1 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are considered to be sun-related.
Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, accounted for about 62,190 cases of skin cancer in 2006 and most of the 10,710 deaths due to skin cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
But if recognized and treated early, skin cancer is almost always curable. Here are the ABCDEs of what to look for in moles, brown spots and growths that can signal skin cancer:
Asymmetry: If you draw a line through a mole, the two halves don't match.
Border: The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
Color: Having a variety of colors is another warning sign. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, blue or some other color.
Diameter: Melanomas are usually larger in diameter than the size of the eraser on your pencil (¼ inch or 6 mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
Evolving: Any change -- in size, shape, color, elevation or other trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting -- points to danger.
New Products Offer More Protection
Besides the risk of cancer, sun exposure causes signs of premature aging, including wrinkling, sagging, brown spots and discoloration.
Everyone knows the importance of using sunscreen with a high sun protection factor -- most dermatologists recommend that people use a lotion that's SPF 30 or higher, especially children and infants.
Dr. Jeffrey Dover told "Good Morning America" that most people don't put on enough sunscreen, and that you should actually put on two layers before heading out in the sun. Another hint: Try using spray-on sunscreens for kids. It doesn't get on your hands, and they might actually think applying it is fun.
Neutrogena has developed a new line of sunscreens with Helioplex, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. This new sunscreen contains avobenzone, one of the best UVA absorbers, and oxybenzone, a very good UVB absorber with some UVA absorbency.
L'Oreal has developed products with Mexoryl SX, an FDA-approved organic filter designed to protect against short UVA rays with high photostability, meaning it won't degrade quickly in the sun. Products with Mexoryl have been available in Europe for years but not in the United States until now.
The products below contain Helioplex or Mexoryl:
L'Oreal Ombrelle Sunscreen with Mexoryl SPF 45
Dermatologists across the country will host free skin cancer screenings during the months of May, June and July. To find participating dermatologists and for more information on skin cancer, visit the Skin Cancer Takes Friends Web site.
You can also find out more about Dr. Jeffrey Dover a dermatologist who created Skin Effects.