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Skin Cancer Awareness Month: What to look for and how to protect yourself

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and a local doctor explained common skin cancers and what to look for in melanoma.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — With over five million skin cancer cases that get diagnosed in the United States each year, it's the most common form of cancer in America, but it's also the most preventable.

"The majority of skin cancers are not life threatening they're common especially as people age and around Texas where there's a lot of sun a lot of fair skinned people, usually, we get basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma and they're usually just non-healing growths," explained Premier Procedural Dermatology Dermatologist, Dr. Ryan Ahern. "If you leave them untreated, they become functional and cosmetic issues not anything life threatening, so the most common stuff is like that."

In 2019, 88,059 new cases of melanomas of the skin were reported and 8,092 people died of this cancer, so its important to look for and be aware of the signs of skin cancer.

"The classic wisdom for risk factors for melanoma specifically, is family history and sun exposure that adds up overtime as people age," explained Dr. Ahern. "Especially if they have a family history or are more genetically light skinned or fair skinned, those people tend to be more at risk but everyone should know what to look for, because melanoma, if not caught early on the back end, you catch it when its advanced there's not a lot of great options for reversing the damage it can cause."

Medical professionals want Texans to be mindful of their sun exposure as the summer months approach.

"A lot of fun things happen outside, its cool to be outside in Texas," explained Dr. Ahern. "There's a lot of recreational activities, people like to fish, ranch, garden, golf, play tennis, whatever it is swim, and those are all good things to do you just kind of have to be smart and you know the more risk factors you have the smarter you should be." 

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