By Lizette Robles - March 30, 2022
Baseball is back, and with plenty of sunshine in the forecast, many fans are heading to ballparks across the state to take in America’s favorite pastime. It’s more important than ever to keep sun safety top of mind.
According to the American Cancer Society, this year nearly 9,700 people in Florida will be diagnosed with melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Just one blistering sunburn doubles your risk. However, skin cancer is preventable and treatable, especially if caught early. Common forms of the disease can have a survival rate higher than 95%.
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Mole Patrol program travels across the state to provide free skin cancer screenings in the community. During baseball season, skin cancer experts host the Spring Swing Sun Safety Tour in partnership with the Tampa Bay Rays, visiting ballparks around Florida to teach fans about the importance of sun safety. Before the Rays took on the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park at Fenway South on March 26, the Mole Patrol screened 37 people and identified 51 suspicious moles. This brings the program’s screening total to more than 5,000 suspicious cancerous lesions and 27 suspected cases of melanoma since its inception in 2008.
It’s important to remember that anyone can get skin cancer, including melanoma, regardless of skin type, color, race or ethnicity. You know your skin better than anyone else, so chances are good that a change in its appearance will catch your eye. It’s important that you regularly perform self-exams. After bathing, use a handheld and a full-length mirror to inspect yourself from head to toe. Be thorough, making sure to examine areas that are exposed to the sun, as well as those that are always covered. And don’t forget to take a look at easy-to-miss spots such as:
- The scalp
- Fingernails and toenails
- Between your fingers and toes
- Soles of your feet
Wearing sunscreen is the first line of defense for sun protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, both of which can cause cancer. Be sure to select a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. While sunscreens can be water resistant, they are not waterproof. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you’re exposed to the sun, and reapply every two to three hours after swimming or excessive sweating.
Experts also recommend wearing protective clothing to cover as much skin as possible when you’re out in the sun for long periods of time. Put on a wide brim hat that protects your face and neck. Your eyes can be severely damaged from the sun, so make sure to wear sunglasses with UV blocking properties that fit your face well to help filter light through the lenses.
For more sun safety tips and for a complete listing of upcoming skin cancer screening events in the community, visit Moffitt.org/MolePatrol.