Jul 30, 2014 12:14 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Melanoma skin cancer on the rise. Local dermatologist provides sun safe tips

TUCSON - Skin cancer is in the national spotlight. Of the seven most common cancers in the U.S., melanoma is the only one that's on the rise.

The acting Surgeon General has issued a prevention call to action.

Dr. Boris Lushniak says, "skin cancer rates are increasing in this country, and it has become a public health crisis."

The latest figures show 63,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year, of those 9,000 die. Experts say U-V radiation from sunlight or tanning beds is the biggest cause.

Doctors say we need to be vigilant about using a broad spectrum sunscreen and reapply it every few hours.

34-year-old Stacey Escalante was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma.

Escalante says, "I looked fine, and I had no indication I was sick. And I just had that spot on my back. It was a little itchy, but other than that, it wasn't a problem."

Now what is cancer free Stacey's message? See a doctor at the first sign of a problem and begin taking precautions at an early age.

"We recommend using an SPF 30 or higher," says Tucson dermatologist Dr. Tina Pai.

New sunscreen formulas can fit any lifestyle or skin condition.

Colore Science makes a water resistant powder sunscreen, SPF 50. Skin Spectrum's Dr. Pai says it appeals to athletes and those with sensitive skin, women and men.

"This one's nice because you can just dust it on, you don't have to get it on your hands," said Dr. Pai.

If your prefer a liquid sunscreen, matte, oil free and tinted moisturizing formulas are top sellers.

For the face the recommended amount is one teaspoon. For the body, one ounce or enough to fill a shot glass.

"For instance this bottle of sunscreen is eight ounces, so if you're using it in the summer it should only last you eight applications to the body," says Dr. Pai dispensing enough sunscreen to fill the palm of her hand.

When it comes to indoor tanning beds 10 states ban teenagers under 18 from using them. In Arizona, parent permission is required in person.

Escalante says, "if people could see the hole in my back. The crater from the skin cancer and everything that I went through, they would learn from what I've gone through."

Dr. Pai says skin cancer is a common problem in Arizona effecting teens and young adults.

Her tips to staying healthy in the sun?

- Wear broad spectrum sunscreen
- Avoid sun exposure between 10am and 4pm
- Wear protective clothing


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