what's your skin cancer backup plan?

Why You Need a Skin Cancer Backup Plan

The back is a common site for deadly melanoma

What’s your skin cancer backup plan? When you’re frolicking on the beach this summer, don’t forget to put sunscreen on your back. According to a recent survey, this is the most neglected body part for many people in the United States when they try to be proactive about skin cancer prevention.

Experts at the American Academy of Dermatology, sponsors of the survey, say the back is a common site for melanoma, a potentially deadly skin cancer. But of the more than 1,000 people polled, more than a third said they rarely or never apply sunscreen to their backs. Nearly half (43 percent) also said they never or rarely ask anyone to assist applying sunscreen to their backs.

Men were most likely to forego sunscreen, with 40 percent of survey participants saying they rarely or never apply sunscreen to their backs, and they were twice as likely to be uncomfortable about asking for help applying it. Thirty-three percent of women said they skip sunscreen on their backs.

The poll also that too few Americans check their backs for signs of skin cancer. More than half (57 percent) said they know how to do a self-check (women were more likely than men to understand the procedure), but only half inspect themselves at least once a year. Overall, only 36 percent of those surveyed check their backs for skin cancer at least once a year, and only 35 percent ask someone else to help.

Exercise Curbs Risk of Some Cancers

Experts say that while many people may be uncomfortable asking someone to apply sunscreen, we need to take charge of our health and monitor our skin for new or changing spots because the best way to cure skin cancer is early detection.

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers, with more than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer diagnosed in the U.S. each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Another 73,000 cases of the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, are diagnosed annually.

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