Extra care can reduce your melanoma risk by 50 percent

Extra care can reduce your melanoma risk by 50 percent. (NTV News)

Nearly 90 percent of melanomas are preventable, according the Melanoma Research Foundation.

It was only about a year and a half ago when NTV's Jessica Stevenson was diagnosed with melanoma.

She is one of about 87 thousand people diagnosed with the potentially fatal skin cancer each year.

Tonight, she's sharing some tips to hopefully help save you from becoming a statistic like her.

Seth, Colleen, there are many unavoidable melanoma risk factors like family history and genetics...

but there are some risks you can protect yourself from, and some that are easily avoidable.

Tonight, for the final segment of this special report, I'm showing you how to potentially reduce your melanoma risk by 50 percent.

"Preventing skin cancer can be a complex endeavor, said Carol O'Neill, a nurse at CHI Health Good Samaritan.

And it all starts with getting naked.

"Being aware of what's on your skin and letting a health care professional [know] if you see changes that you're not certain about, especially new, dark moles or dark what looks like a mole and reddish brown spots," said Sharon Bond, a board-certified dermatologist.

While an early diagnosis is important for recovery, there's simple steps you can take to hopefully avoid melanoma altogether.

"Never use the tanning bed number one and if you have, don't do it any more and protect your skin from the sun," said Bond.

Experts say staying out of direct sunlight is important.

"A lot of it has to do with avoiding ultraviolet radiation and a lot of that means finding shade or creating shade so you do not have that direct exposure," O'Neill said.

"Avoid the peak hours of the sun from like 10 until four. So, those are some things that you can do to help," Bond said.

But if seeking shade isn't practical, there are many carefree options for protecting your skin.

"You put them on, they feel just like any other shirt or any other pair of pants," said Randy Wilson, a product specialist at Cabela's, said.

That's right, there's clothes created to block the sun's rays.

"We have such good clothing that have the spf in them, up to spf 50 which controls any problems with the sun. We also have a lot of clothing that are made to be in heat, in other words they're made to be in hot weather. You can still wear a long sleeve shirt, you can wear a hat. I mean, I think that's very important a lot of people forget about the noggin," Wilson said.

But not all hats are created equal when talking about cancer prevention.

"Wear something that has a wide brim. Again, I'm protection the back of my neck, I'm protecting my ears and there's all type of product out there but get something that's going to do some protection. A ball cap will shade the front of my face but that's about it," he said.

Another option to consider is sunscreen.

According to the skin cancer foundation, regular daily use of sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.

"Sunscreen is an incredibly important part of protecting yourself from ultraviolet radiation. It needs to be a product that is broad-spectrum, it needs to be a product that is at least a number of 15 for the protection factor, 30 would be better. Now, the important thing to remember is it only works if you put it on and it only works if you put enough on," O'Neill said.

But how much is enough?

"Say a young woman who's wearing a bikini, if they truly want to protect their entire body they need to use enough sunscreen, about the size of a golf ball, or what would fill a shot glass that's a lot of sun screen. For someone who is just putting it on their face, about the size of nickel. So, again, the issue is use enough of it, be extremely generous, and then reapply it," O'Neill said.

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