With summer approaching and national Skin Cancer Awareness Month just having passed, the summer months are a good time to take stock of your sunscreen supplies.

Discard any expired sunscreen and replenish with a fresh supply. When choosing a sunscreen, look for the words “broad spectrum” to protect the skin from UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays, both of which can cause cancer. “Water resistant” generally means just 40-80 minutes of coverage when exposed to sweating or swimming. Sun protection factors (SPF) can range anywhere from 4 to more than 100. Choose your SPF according to your maximum needed protection.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following concerning skin cancer:

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

Actinic Keratoses (AK) are dry, scaly patches or spots that are precancerous growths. Because AK can turn into skin cancer, treatment is important.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), the most common type of skin cancer, is a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump or pinkish patch of skin. Basel cell usually develops after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning. Early diagnosis is important because BCC can grow deep.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (BCC), the second-most common type of skin cancer, often looks like a firm, red bump, scaly patch or sore that heals and reopens.

Melanoma can develop within a mole that you already have on your skin or appear as a dark spot that looks different from the rest. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical. Know your “ABCDE” warning signs of Melanoma, which are:

  • “A” is for Asymmetry: One half of the spot is different.
  • “B” is for Border: The spot has an irregular or less-defined border.
  • “C” is for Color: The spot has varying colors including brown, black, white, tan, red and blue.
  • “D” is for Diameter: Melanomas are usually greater than the size of a pencil eraser but often can be smaller.
  • “E “is for Evolving: The shape is different than other spots and is changing in shape, color or size.

The Medical Center’s Visiting Specialist program offers several choices for excellent dermatological care. Visit the Dermatology section of the Visiting Specialists page or call 306-367-6702.