Tag Archives: melanoma

Cancer on the Decline in South Carolina

A recent report by the South Carolina Cancer Alliance (SCCA) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) announced that cancer mortality rates in South Carolina have declined by 17.6% in the past 20 years.  According to the report, the most prevalent cancers in our state are: lung cancer, melanoma (skin cancer), breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer.

Cancer specialists contribute the decline in cancer mortality rates to primary prevention strategies such as decreasing the prevalence of smoking, early detection and improved cancer treatments.

Although specific risk factors are relative to specific types of cancers, general risk factors include:

  • tobacco usage,
  • being overweight, and
  • an unbalanced diet.

It is important to understand that although cancer mortality rates have declined, health disparities still exist among minority populations and in rural communities. More than 26,000 people are diagnosed with an invasive cancer and nearly 10,000 people die from cancer each year.

“We are moving in the right direction for a state our size, but we are still behind the rest of the country,” said Dr. Gerald Wilson, chair of the South Carolina Cancer Alliance. “The best course of action people can take is to speak with their doctors about cancer screenings and lifestyle changes.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in South Carolina and ranks 1st for cancer deaths.
  • The rate of all cancers in women increased by 5.5%.
  • The death rate for black women with breast cancer is 43.5% higher than for white women.
  • Skin cancer increases of 21.2% among white men and 24.6% among white women mirror national trends.
  • The death rate for black men with prostate cancer is three times higher than white men.

For more information or to view the full report, visit:  https://www.sccancer.org/media/1348/20-year-cancer-report_spread-w-bleed.pdf.

DHEC in the News: Free sunscreen, obesity, smoke-free college campuses

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Free sunscreen now available in dispensers at Riverdogs stadium

Forgot your sunscreen? There may soon be dispensers of the stuff on the path to the beach and in the area’s parks.

There are already 10 of the sunscreen receptacles at the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park stadium, installed last Sunday. The SPF 30 sunscreen is free at the dispensers.

The initiative is intended to help bring down cases of melanoma. More cases of the skin cancer have been diagnosed every year in South Carolina, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

 General Interest

CDC Says Obesity Higher in Rural Versus Urban Counties

On June 15, the CDC released a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)(www.cdc.gov) that found the prevalence of obesity was higher, at 34.2 percent, among U.S. adults living in nonmetropolitan counties than the 28.7 percent prevalence among those living in metropolitan counties.

This research was based on state-level data from the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual random-digit-dialed telephone survey of adults 18 and older. The CDC and state and territorial health departments conduct the BRFSS to monitor health conditions and related behaviors.

CDC: College Campuses Increasingly Go Smoke-Free

Twice as many colleges and universities in the U.S. had smoke-free or tobacco-free policies in 2017 than in 2012, according to the CDC and American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF).

The vast majority of the 2,082 colleges and universities with anti-smoking policies as of November 2017 were tobacco free, meaning they had banned not only conventional cigarette smoking, but all other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and hookah use.

Practice sun safety to help avoid skin cancer

As enjoyable as it is to have fun in the sun, it’s important to protect your skin in the midst of that good time.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website that in order to lower your skin cancer risk, you should protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning.

Here are some safety tips the CDC recommends:

Check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UV Index before you spend time outdoors. Plan your sun protection accordingly, using these tips:

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of UV rays as possible.
  • Use sunscreen with “broad spectrum protection” and a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

A few facts about skin cancer

  • The sun’s UV rays can damage unprotected skin in as little as 15 minutes. That said, it can take as long as 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure.
  • It’s not about the temperature. Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection from UV rays.
  • Tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the color of your skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays.
  • Indoor tanning exposes users to both UVA and UVB rays, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer.
  • The most common sign of skin cancer is a change in your skin, such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole.

Visit the CDC website to find more information on skin cancer awareness.