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‘Melanoma Monday’ aims to bring skin cancer awareness to Arizona residents

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

PHOENIX —  As Skin Cancer Awareness Month kicks off for the month of May, an Arizona doctor is reminding residents just how deadly skin cancer truly is, especially in the Valley of the Sun.

Monday, May 2nd was marked as “Melanoma Monday.” Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that has a nearly 100 percent cure rate, but can spread quickly and can even be fatal.

Even though the survival rate for those who detect and treat it early is 98 percent, it is estimated that one person dies from melanoma every hour, making it the the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Dr. Terry Simpson, an Arizona surgeon who has experience removing melanomas, said Arizonans are at a higher risk for skin cancer due to the high amount of days with sunshine seen in the Valley.

“We’re at higher risk because we have more sun exposure, because we have a longer period of time with sun exposure, because we have less clouds and more sunny days,” he said.

Simpson also emphasized if it is caught early, melanoma can be removed easily with surgery.

“It’s one of those skin cancers that can be removed pretty easily by a general surgeon, a plastic surgeon, or a dermatologist,” he said.

Arizona has one of the highest rates in the country of skin cancer deaths from melanoma, Simpson said, even though melanoma is very preventable.

Simpson said men tend to get melanoma more frequently than women, primarily because men don’t usually wear foundation makeup — which typically contain sunscreen —  but women often do.

To protect yourself from melanoma, Simpson said to use a sunscreen of at least SPF 35, even for those who don’t spend a great deal of time outdoors.

Clothing-wise, Simpson recommends using big, floppy hats, sunglasses, and clothing with U.V. protection, which he said, “It actually works — it’s tested and works well.”

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