Maine CDC Press Release

June 6, 2007

Enjoy the Maine Outdoors and Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Dora AnneMills, MD, MPH
Tel: (207) 287-3270
Holly Richards
Tel: (207) 287-4321

AUGUSTA – “Building lifetime safe-sun habits is simple, and there’s no better time to begin than Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which began May 1st ,” announced Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC in the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in Maine and the U.S., accounting for nearly half of all cancers. While many believe that skin cancer is not a problem in Maine, over 400 Maine people will be diagnosed this year with melanoma, the most serious and deadly form of skin cancer,” added Dr. Mills.

The Maine CDC states that the good news is that most skin cancers are preventable, easy to recognize, and if skin cancer is detected early, it can be cured. Nearly 99% of basal cell and squamous cell cancers, when they’re found early and treated promptly, are cured. For people with melanoma, the overall five-year survival rate is 88%. So, early detection is crucial.

Studies show a link between sunburns before 18 or tanning bed use and an increased risk of melanoma. Over 80% of a person’s sun exposure happens before their 18th birthday, so starting good sun protection habits early is extremely important. However, it’s never too late to start protecting your skin.

The best way to avoid risks of sunburn and skin damage that can lead to skin cancer is to use a skin-safe regimen year round that consists of:

  • Using sunscreen with at least a SPF of 15;

  • Limiting exposure to sun between 10 AM and 4PM;

  • Wearing sunglasses with 99 – 100% ultraviolet light absorption;

  • Wearing hats;

  • Not using tanning beds.

“It’s important that we all enjoy the outdoors, but we should do it safely,” concluded Dr. Mills.