BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– As the days get longer and hotter, people spend more time in the sun, but for Skin Cancer Awareness Month doctors are warning that catching those rays does not come without risks.

“Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer. In fact, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. However, fortunately, skin cancer is very treatable when caught early,” said Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Azeen Sadeghian.

Skin cancer can affect anyone, even if you don’t typically get a sunburn. Although people of color do have a lower risk of getting skin cancer, they are often diagnosed in their later stages when it’s more challenging to treat.

“We actually start developing some DNA damage through UV exposure from a very young age, even in childhood. It’s cumulative,” said Dr. Sadeghian.

She adds that we have high levels of UV exposure in Louisiana. In addition, people exposing more skin, and thinning the ozone layer contributes to UV exposure.

But exposing your skin to sunlight is not the only way you risk developing skin cancer. “Tanning beds are very carcinogenic to the skin. They emit strong UV rays, and these can actually cause DNA damage within our skin cells and increase the risk of skin cancer drastically,” said Dr. Sadeghian. She recommends that anyone who has ever used a tanning bed get routine skin checks with a dermatologist.

Your best protection is to wear sunscreen daily, at least SPF 30 or higher, seek shade, and wear protective clothing–––whatever you can do to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

On top of taking those precautions to limit sun exposure, doctors also recommend performing monthly self-exams to spot skin cancer early. The American Academy of Dermatology says you
 should look for the “ABCDE’s” A: Asymmetry, B: Border, C: Color, D: Diameter, and E: Evolving.

For more information about skin cancer and to schedule with a Board-Certified Dermatologist, click here.