Malignant Melanoma

Sun and Water Safety Tips for Summer

Summer is a season when outdoor activity increases. Unfortunately, so can the number of skin cancers. There are more cases of skin cancer each year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. In fact, of the seven most common cancers, melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is the only type of cancer that is on the rise.

Physicians at American Family Care and AFC/Doctors Express urgent care centers ( are raising awareness about the importance of getting skin checks. Experts say most skin cancers can be found early with regular skin exams. Physicians can give these exams at urgent care facilities – no specialists or long waits necessary.

Here are some sun safety tips from AFC and AFC/Doctors Express physicians:

Know when to seek shade or use sunscreen – UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Seek shade or apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. For lasting protection, be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, even on cloudy days.

Choose sunscreen wisely – be sure the sunscreen is labeled “broad spectrum,” which provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays. And use a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF.

Use extra caution at higher altitudes – UV exposure can be stronger at higher altitudes because there is less atmosphere to absorb the UV radiation.

Avoid the burn – sunburns significantly increase the lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.

Wear proper clothing – long sleeved shirts, pants, hats and UV resistant sunglasses all provide sun protection, even on a cloudy day when UV rays can still be strong.

Other summer health hazards:

Heat Stroke – the most serious heat-related illness. Body temps can rise to 106 degrees in 10 to 15 minutes, and sweating just isn’t enough to cool down. Without immediate treatment, heat stroke can cause permanent disability or be fatal.

Drowning – Dry drowning happens when water is inhaled while swimming, creating irritation in the airway. The irritation can cause muscle spasms, leading to impaired breathing. Secondary drowning occurs when water is inhaled while swimming and doesn’t clear the lungs. The irritation caused by the water can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs, known as pulmonary edema. The drowning actually occurs from the lung fluid, not the water. (Editor’s note: For tips from the Red Cross on water safety, click here.)

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