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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

ACS: Secret to skin cancer prevention is realy as simple as slip, slap, slop

Thursday, July 5, 2007

SIKESTON -- Slip, slap, slop.

That's the American Cancer Society's slogan for sun safety, said Marcie Lawson, community manager of health initiatives at the Sikeston office.

"You want to slip on a T-Shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat," Lawson explained. "That's just kind of an easy, quick reminder of what you need to be doing."

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1 million cases of non melanoma skin cancer that are considered to be sun-related are diagnosed yearly in the United States.

That's all too common to Laura Davis of Dexter. Almost two years ago, she was diagnosed with melanoma.

"It's just a combination of spending time in the sun, getting sunburned and genetic links," she said.

Davis said although doctors found no direct link between sun rays and her cancer, she's learned how important sunscreen is.

"You want to do anything you can to be preventative," she said.

Brenda Freed, health educator at the Scott County Health Department, agreed early prevention is key.

"Always start your skin safety practices early in life," she said. "Most of the skin damage is done while we're kids."

Freed and Lawson offered several tips to be sun safe.

First, try to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the rays are most powerful. But if you must be out then, Freed recommended covering up with long sleeves or pants to protect exposed skin.

"Wear a hat with a wide brim," Freed continued. Also, sunglasses are an important accessory, and one should be sure their shades block ultraviolet A and B rays.

Sunscreen should have an sun protection factor of at least 15. "But the more you go up, the better," Lawson said. "Personally, I recommend 30 SPF."

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two to four hours, except if playing in the water or sweating, then every two hours. "There's no harm in putting too much sunscreen on, Lawson said.

And since spray-on sunscreens have a thin coat, it needs to be reapplied every hour, she added.

No matter what one does to prevent melanoma, it can still happen. Julie Bohannon of Sikeston was always cautious.

Still, her daughter Brittney, 19, was diagnosed last year with melanoma on her cheek.

"I have always been very careful about making sure she had sunscreen on if she was outside in the sun," Bohannon said.

Even the summer Brittney was a lifeguard, she kept slathered with sunscreen. Bohannon said her daughter's hat perhaps didn't have a wide enough brim to give total protection, though.

Brittney's ordeal has made Bohannon even more cautious with her two younger children. "All three of my kids are going to be checked out from head to toe every six months," she said, adding all of their moles have been documented and measured.

Their sunscreen use will also be increased, including winter wear, something Freed and Lawson recommend.