The dangers of skin cancer - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

The dangers of skin cancer


WATERLOO (KWWL)---If you've got plans to head to the pool or beach this weekend to enjoy the summer sun…be careful!  The CDC estimates that one in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime.

On a hot summer day, you can find lots of people soaking up the sun.  But a little sunshine goes a long way.  And if you're not careful, getting a glow could lead to permanent skin damage.

"Most of the damage happens before you're 20 years old.  So it's the damage you get as a kid, not as much the damage you get as an adult and have been diagnosed with skin problems and they tell you to stay out of the sun," said Dr. Cassandra Foens, with the Wheaton-Fransiscan Cancer Center.

It's something Jessica Blasberg knows all too well.  She found a bump on her nose that turned out to be skin cancer.  And she thinks spending too much time outdoors without sunscreen is to blame.

"You get into your teens and you think, you know it's not going to hurt me and then you might go out and do things without it and before you know it something like this happens," Blasberg said.

But how do you know if you have skin cancer?  Many times, the disease can start with the discoloration of the skin, like changes in moles.  So it's good to screen yourself regularly and see a dermatologist if anything on your skin looks different than it has before.

"In general, if there's something that's new, something that won't heal, something that's in a sun exposed area, you want to have that checked out.  Even if it turns out to be benign, at least you'll know," said Dr. Foens.

And of course, to stop the sunshine from causing damage that can lead to skin cancer, it's crucial to use sun block with an SPF of at least 30, and re-apply every few hours when you're outside.  Avoiding indoor tanning is also key.

Genetics can also be tied to some forms of skin cancer, particularly melanoma.  So if you have a family history of the disease, it's best to get checked by a dermatologist every year.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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