Melanoma Monday: What men and women need to know about skin cancer

6:07 PM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- The first Monday of May is recognized as Melanoma Monday. The American Academy of Dermatology uses this national effort to show how melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can easily be prevented and detected. 

Florida is synonymous with fun in the sun. After all, it's nicknamed the "Sunshine State". But with more and more cases of melanoma, men and women need to make some changes.

"Women maybe are a little more likely to have melanoma on their legs because they get a little more sun exposure on their legs. Men are likely to have melanoma on the top of their scalp," said Moffitt Cancer Center's Dr. Vernon Sondak. 

Dr. Sondak found men, "have a little less protection in general on the top of the scalp".

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in men. Seventh in women. Dr. Sondak told 10 News there are some other gender differences:

"The trend that has always been the most alarming is that men tend to come in with their melanomas a little bit later and have a worse outcome than women."     

Dr. Sondak pointed out that's likely because men will ignore something on their skin and just brush it off. Many young women get too much UV exposure in tanning beds and pay the price later. 

Melanoma doesn't discriminate. He's seen it frequently in children, teens, young adults in their 20's and 30's, as well as older people.

"One of the myths about melanoma is that you have to be outside all the time to get it," Dr. Sondak said. "Here in Florida, we see plenty of patients who are like that. They were lifeguards, they're fisherman, they're golfers. They're out in the sun all the time, but we see at least as many people who say you know, 'I work in an office. I rarely go out in the sun, but on the weekends I like to go out. I like to play golf every once in awhile or go to the beach and it was much more of an intermittent exposure.'"

Even intermittent exposure with a compilation of bad sunburns can lead to trouble.

"We don't say people should live in a cave here in Florida. We know we come down to Florida because we love the beautiful weather."     

But enjoy the sunshine with plenty of sunscreen to avoid both UVA and UVB rays. Use a high SPF if you plan to be out for awhile. And wear a hat with a big brim to cover that sensitive skin. 

Melanoma is the most common cancer for 25 to 29 year olds, so encourage those around you young, and not as young, to wear sunscreen and protective clothing while out in the sun no matter the amount of time.

Also check out...

Dr. Sondak encourages you to remember the ABCD's for spotting skin cancer. Click here for a link.

Click here to read 10 News Anchor Heather Van Nest's own melanoma story.     

10 News is a proud sponsor of this Saturday's Miles for Moffitt at USF. Click here to learn how you can sign up.

Dr. Sondak will take part in a Melanoma Chat on Facebook. Click here for details.

Libby Hendren, 10 News