June is Men's Health Awareness Month, and Lake Regional Oncologist Michael Wang, M.D., encourages men to increase their awareness about a common but often overlooked danger — skin cancer.
"Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and it affects men at an even greater rate than it affects women," Dr. Wang said. "I encourage men to take simple steps to reduce their risk for this potentially life-threatening danger."
Factors Increasing Men's Risk
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report men are more likely than women to get skin cancer because men tend to have more sun exposure. Men generally spend more time outdoors throughout their lifetimes than do women, and men are more likely than women to work outdoors.
Another reason men are more at risk is because they use less sun protection. Women benefit from using personal care products, such as moisturizer and makeup, that contain sunscreen, whereas men usually do not.
Also, sunburn, which can increase the risk of skin cancer, is common among white men. When outside on a sunny day for more than an hour, only about 14 percent of men use sunscreen on both their face and other exposed skin.
"Unfortunately, protecting against sun damage is not something men tend to think about," Dr. Wang said. "Probably, men underestimate their risk. Greater awareness about how common skin cancer is might make men more willing to protect their skin."
Easy Steps to Prevent Sun Damage
Men, women and children all can reduce their risk for skin cancer with the following simple steps.
- Cover up outside. Long-sleeved shirts, pants and a wide-brimmed hat offer the best protection. If you're wearing a baseball cap or short-sleeved shirt, make sure to put sunscreen on your ears, neck and arms.
- Seek shade. If outside, keep to the shade as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use the right sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15 on any exposed skin. Don't forget to reapply it every two hours, as well as after swimming, sweating or toweling off.
- Work smart. If you work outdoors, ask about sun protection at your job, for example, sun-protective clothing.
- Avoid indoor tanning. UV exposure from indoor tanning damages the skin and can cause skin cancer.
"Being sun smart doesn't take much effort, but it can prevent a lot of suffering," Dr. Wang said. "I hope men get the message and protect themselves."
Learn more about Lake Regional Cancer Center and cancer treatments at www.lakeregional.com/cancercare.