May is dedicated to bringing awareness to one of the most common types of cancer. With over 5 million people diagnosed each year, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Although it is common, there are still many individuals who aren’t aware of the cause and how to prevent it.
Skin Cancer Awareness Month happens each year in May. This is the time where we highlight not only the history behind skin cancer but also information and helpful tips to prevent it from affecting more people. Many businesses, organizations, and communities join in each year to add to the recognition of the most common cancers.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month?
- What's the History Behind Skin Cancer Awareness Month?
- What Month Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month?
- What Are the Colors, Symbols, or Ribbons for Skin Cancer Awareness Month?
- 3 Things You Can Do to Acknowledge Skin Cancer Awareness Month
With much uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 virus, it’s more important now than ever to stay informed and healthy. It can be complex to understand the impact of the sun on our skin and just how rapidly this form of cancer spreads yearly.
What Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month?
Skin Cancer Awareness month was created in order to give people resources and updates to protect themselves. Campaigns, articles, and toolkits are only a few examples of the many ways we use this month to inform the public about the dangers of skin cancer.
May is not only Skin Cancer Awareness Month but also Melanoma Awareness Month. Melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, accounts for only 1% of skin cancer but is the leading cause of death from this form of cancer.
What’s the History Behind Skin Cancer Awareness Month?
Skin cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers year-round, it is also one of the most preventable. About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 85 percent of melanoma cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This month is utilized to spread the word and prevent more cases of skin cancer.
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common types of skin cancer, followed by melanoma(which is more dangerous and causes the most deaths). Most cases are caused by exposure to too much ultraviolet light, or UV rays. Once UV rays, invisible radiation, penetrate the skin they can cause damage. Ultraviolet rays come from the sun, sunlamps, and tanning beds.
There are 3 types of UV rays:
- UVA rays reach Earth’s surface and penetrate through the skin, which can cause damage to the skin and connective tissue.
- UVB rays reach Earth’s surface less often because they are absorbed by the ozone layer. These can damage DNA and cause sunburn.
- UVC rays are the most dangerous, however, they don’t reach Earth’s surface.
Skin Cancer Awareness Month works to shed light on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, and prevention of this cancer. Spreading knowledge to help people protect themselves and their loved ones. Here’s more information on the awareness this month brings:
Causes of skin cancer
Unprotected exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) light is the main cause of skin cancer, however, some genetic traits also play a part.
Other risk factors include:
- Having fair skin(mostly those who freckle and burn easily)
- Having a family history of skin cancer
- Exposure to UV sunlight or other forms like tanning beds
Other helpful information
Paying attention to your body, taking care of your skin, and staying knowledgeable about skin cancer are a few very beneficial steps.
Here are a few more things to remember:
- Stay in the shade as much as possible.
- Pack sunscreen and reapply every two hours(and after swimming, toweling off, or sweating).
- Bring wide brim hats and lightweight cover-ups to the beach.
- Get regular check-ups and ask questions.
- Remember that even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need UV protection.
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.
- Wear shades when outdoors.
What Month Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month?
Each year, Skin Cancer Awareness Month happens in May. As May begins, we experience more sun in preparation for the summer. It’s important to remind people of the safety measures that are necessary to prevent too much exposure to the sun. When winter finally wraps up, we must remember to protect ourselves as we start getting more sun.
Some people don’t realize how important it is to stay protected, even when it’s cool and breezy outside. The importance of this month is to support the knowledge of skin cancer. This includes not only what it is, but also how to prevent the spread of it.
What Are the Colors, Symbols, or Ribbons for Skin Cancer Awareness Month?
There are many great ways that we express awareness of the various forms of cancer. Ribbons are one of the most popular identifications for this awareness. Each ribbon has a different color to represent its particular cause.
Skin Cancer Awareness Month can be identified by the color black. All forms of cancer fall under the color lavender or light purple. Most people understand a lot of others don’t know each color. Most won’t mind explaining the purpose of the ribbons or the colors that they wear, however, here are a few more examples of cancer ribbons and months:
Other Cancer Ribbons and Months:
- Bone cancer — Yellow (July)
- Brain cancer — Gray (May)
- Breast cancer — Pink (October)
- Colon cancer — Dark Blue (March)
- Liver cancer — Emerald or Jade Green (October)
- Leukemia — Orange (September)
- Lung cancer — Pearl, clear, or white (November)
- Melanoma — Black (May)
- Ovarian cancer — Teal (September)
- Sarcoma — Yellow (July)
With more than 100 forms of cancer, it can be helpful to know which ribbons support which forms of cancer. Depending on where you live the colors can vary, some cancers fall under multiple colors as well.
A great way to bring awareness is to support the cause by wearing ribbons or colors to show solidarity. Also, donating time, energy, and resources to funding campaigns around the world.
3 Things You Can Do to Acknowledge Skin Cancer Awareness Month
More than 90% of skin cancer is caused by exposure to the sun. Reading this article is only a start to what you can do to acknowledge Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Make sure that you stay safe and protected when you are outside. This recognition prevents more cases of skin cancer from spreading.
Here are a few things you can do to acknowledge Skin Cancer Awareness Month:
1. Educate yourself and your loved ones
One of the best ways to recognize and support this month of awareness is by educating yourself and your family. Learn more about how to protect yourself and provide support for those in need. Also, any friends or community members who may be interested in learning more or discussing their own relationship with skin cancer.
There are many resources available to learn more about skin cancer and prevention. Including testimonials from those who have battled with the diagnosis and doctors who have studied this cancer. The best way to educate yourself is to read a book about cancer.
2. Reach out to anyone you know who has been diagnosed
Another great way to support this month of awareness is by reaching out to anyone you know who has been diagnosed with skin cancer. Providing support to those in need as they grieve or battle with their situation.
Be mindful of your conversations with those who have been diagnosed with this cancer. Even the most emotionally-intelligent person can struggle to know what to say in times like this.
Sending personalized condolences helps people feel cared for and reminds them that they have a support system to call. It can be hard to know what to say to a loved one whose family member has cancer.
Discovering that someone has cancer can be shocking and a devastating experience for everyone involved. A lot of emotions can arise in these circumstances and you may find yourself searching for the right words to say. Take time to learn more about how to support someone with cancer.
3. Find helpful resources to stay positive
It can be a challenge to stay positive in moments like these, however, it’s one of the most important things you can do to move forward. Positivity helps to cope with moving through this diagnosis. This also helps to provide support to those in need who are dealing with skin cancer.
Staying positive and encouraging those around you can be a process. It can be difficult to uplift your close relationships and offer positive words of support. Whether you are the one in need of positivity, or you’re looking to share with others, know that you can do it! Check out these words of encouragement for cancer patients.
A few other ways to spread awareness include creating a fundraiser to raise funds in order to support this cause. Also, telling your own story and connecting with others.
Help Increase Awareness This Year
In addition to protecting yourself this year, make sure that you share advice and tips with your loved ones. Spreading awareness can save millions of people from going through the tough processes of a skin cancer diagnosis and provide support to those battling with it. Remember to stay safe and wear sunscreen!
- “May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.” Skin Cancer, The Skin Cancer Foundation, www.skincancer.org/get-involved/skin-cancer-awareness-month/.
- Fayed, Lisa, and Sullivan MS, Lisa. “National Skin Cancer Awareness Month.” Very Well Health, Dot Dash, 24 October 2020, www.verywellhealth.com/may-is-national-skin-cancer-awareness-month-514374.
- “Skin Cancer Awareness.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 13 March 2020, www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/skincancer/index.htm.
- Eldridge MD, Lynne, and Paul MD, Doru. “Colors and Months for Cancer Ribbons.” Very Well Health, Dot Dash, 01 November 2019, www.verywellhealth.com/cancer-ribbons-colors-meanings-2249253.