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Protection from UV Damage Pamphlet
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 Melanoma Prevention
In this section, you will find important information to help you protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays.

By following a few simple guidelines, you can continue to enjoy outdoor activities and the time you spend in the sun while protecting yourself from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Regular Skin Check-Ups
One key to fighting skin cancer is early diagnosis and treatment. A cancerous growth can develop rapidly, perhaps in a location you may not notice or cannot see (for example, on your back). The sooner it can be detected, the greater your chances of treating it successfully. That's why dermatologists recommend that you visit a doctor for routine skin cancer screenings.

During a skin cancer screening, your doctor will probably discuss your medical history and inspect your skin from head to toe including areas not exposed to the sun. He or she will record the location, size, and color of any moles. If a mole looks unusual, he or she may arrange for a biopsy.

A biopsy is a relatively painless surgical procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the suspected area and examined under a microscope. If the suspected area is small enough, the entire mole may be removed for the biopsy. If the biopsy shows the growth to be cancerous, or even precancerous, your doctor will determine the best treatment.

Another important key to fighting skin cancer is detection. If you have noticed any changes in the appearance of a mole recently, don't wait until your next check-up. Bring it to your doctor's attention immediately.

Sun Safety

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are the sun's invisible "burning" rays the ones that cause sunburns, and in some cases, skin cancer. There are three types of ultraviolet rays:
  • UV-AThese rays of the sun maintain a relatively constant intensity throughout the year and also penetrate more deeply into the skin's layers than UV-B rays. These rays contribute to premature aging and wrinkling of the skin, to sunburn, and even to skin cancer.
  • UV-BThese rays, which are stronger than UV-A, are more intense in summer months, at higher altitudes, and closer to the equator. UV-B is the most common cause of sunburning, can contribute to the premature aging of the skin, and can cause cataracts a permanent clouding of the eye which greatly reduces vision. The UV-B exposure we get over the course of our life can even cause skin cancer and alter your immune system.
  • UV-CThese rays, although the strongest and most dangerous, are normally filtered by the ozone layer and do not reach the Earth.
How much UV reaches me?The amount of UV you are exposed to changes with the time of day, seasons, weather conditions, and where you happen to be. The more intense the sun, the greater your exposure to UV. The amount of UV that will filter down to the Earth depends on the following:
  • Time of Day: UV is greatest when the sun is highest in the sky generally midday, between 10 AM and 4 PM and less in the early morning and late afternoon. A good rule of thumb is "If your shadow is shorter than you are, you should take extra precautions in the sun."
  • Season: While UV exposure is the greatest in the Summer (May-August), it is important to remember that UV reaches the Earth every day, and you should remember to take the appropriate precautions in the sun all year round.
  • Altitude: The air is cleaner and thinner at higher altitudes; therefore, UV exposure is greater in the mountains than in the valleys.
  • Where You Live: UV is strongest at the equator and gets weaker as you move towards the Earth's poles. Remember to take extra precautions if you travel to tropical locations!
  • Length of Time Spent in the Sun: The longer you are out in the sun, the more UV you receive. Many of us forget to include time spent outside doing daily activities such as walking a dog, getting the mail, or walking to a train or bus stop as time spent in the sun. However, much of the UV exposure we get is from these types of activities.
Sun Facts
  • Protecting your skin during the first 18 years of life can reduce the risk of some types of skin cancer by up to 78%.
  • You can get a sunburn even on a cloudy day! Up to 80% of the sun's rays can penetrate light clouds, mist, and fog.
  • Experts warn that one severe sunburn during the first 15 years of life can double the risk of skin cancer.
  • Cataracts, once thought to be an inevitable part of aging, are also associated with UV exposure.
  • Snow reflects the sun like a mirror. Fresh snow reflects up to 95% of the sun's rays.
  • You can get sunburned when you are in the water! Water reflects an additional 5% of the sun's rays back on you.
  • Even dry surfaces reflect the sun's rays! Concrete reflects 10% to 12% of the sun's rays.