May 2011

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Sun Sense Skin cancer affects one in five Americans in their lifetime. Take the right steps to help prevent skin cancer with these tips from Dr. Christine Tock, dermatologist with Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin By Sharyn Alden Get in the know. Not everyone who is a sun worshipper will de- velop skin cancer, nor does everyone who has a suspicious looking mole—but sun exposure is implicated in the three most common types of skin cancer, Tock explains. So where do you begin? Start by understanding your personal risk factors, including your family history along with your history of tanning. Talk it over with your doctor so you can work toward prevention together. Get screened. Early detection is critical, and being diligent about applying sun protection is just one thing you can you do. Don’t forget regular self-exams for unusual looking moles, and take time for a full-body skin cancer screening at your doctor’s office. Tock, who provides free walk-in screenings for her patients, recom- mends asking your doctor for a skin cancer screening every one to two years depending on your risk factors. Don’t be fooled. Take what you already know about sunscreen ap- plication and be vigilant about it. A solid slathering of lotion before heading outside is great, but for best results the American Cancer Society says don’t forget to reapply after swimming, sweating and drying yourself with a towel. And don’t skip putting on sunscreen even if you’re in the shade or just hopping in the car. Daily use is critical. Make it a habit. Be sunscreen smart. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater for skin and lips. “Broad spectrum sun- screens have ingredients that block both UVB and UVA sunrays,” Tock says. For children under 2 years old, Tock recommends avoid- ing the midday sun by staying in the shade and donning protective clothing. For young children, Tock suggests “physical sunscreens” such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. 608.478.0411 May 2011 13

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