Research is showing promise in treating skin cancer.
? When you go outside, wear protective clothing and apply a sun block that provides UVA and UVB protection with a SPF ranking of 30 or more.
? Dr. Marta Rendon, a Boca Raton dermatologist, says pay attention to your moles, particularly those that are changing or are irregularly shaped. "It's important to recognize your moles," she says. "See a doctor once a year, and get your skin examined."
? Kids are particularly at risk. Rendon, for example, says more of her teenage patients have abnormal moles that have the potential to become cancer. "Seventy to 80% of all the sun exposure you get in your entire life you get by the time you're 18 years old," says Sondak. "So the die is already cast for a lot of our children by the time they get out of high school.
Elementary schools should have shaded areas where children are sent out at recess or P.E. Hats should be encouraged and not outlawed. Kids have to know that it's cool to wear sunscreen and not, you know, nerdy."
It's one of cancer's most avoidable forms, but 4,380 Floridians will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, according to the American Cancer Society. The group also estimates that 8,110 people nationwide will die from it. But the skin cancer story isn't entirely bleak. Researchers are working toward more effective treatments, and doctors say that by simply protecting yourself from the sun you'll likely never get melanoma.