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Tucson Living: Skin cancer risks - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Tucson Living: Skin cancer risks

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Tucson Living means living with sunshine year round. That can be dangerous for your skin. Some people believe that the cooler weather in the winter decreases their risk for developing skin cancer. But protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is a year-round job. Doctor Bruce Porterfield, M.D. is an oncologist at Arizona Oncology in Green Valley. He says that in addition to those who are exposed to the sun, people who use tanning beds are also at risk for non-melanoma skin cancer. The most important form of protection to use is sun screen. It is advised that you should use at least an SPF 30 or higher sun screen and apply a liberal amount before heading outside. You should re-apply the sunscreen about every ninety minutes. 

Dr. Porterfield says that you should keep an eye on your moles. Keep track of how many you have. Look for asymmetry and color. There should be a consistent color throughout. Also the size, moles normally aren't much larger than the size of a pencil eraser. If you have a mole that seems to be evolving, that is also a sign that it could be cancerous. Always bring suspect moles to the attention of your primary care physician. A lot of times your primary care physician or a dermatologist will be able to freeze, burn or surgically remove cancerous moles before they can spread to other cells.

Prevention is key, Dr. Porterfield adds. Skin cancer prevention really starts as educating parents of young kids and teenagers. Sun damage really starts at an early age. The damage that you acquire when you are young is what causes your cancer when you are older.

For more information on skin cancer, visit Arizona Oncology's website.

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