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Protect yourself this summer

PHOENIX -- More Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterus, ovaries and pancreas -- combined.

All together, says the American Cancer Society, that equals two million new cases of skin cancer a year, making it more common than any other cancer. The majority of skin cancers are caused from too many UV rays--which can come from the sun, or tanning beds.

With summer here, now is a great time to get educated on skin cancer and learn how to prevent it.

The three types of skin cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, three types of skin cancer are the most common:

1. Basal Cell Skin Cancer: These cancer cells rarely spread to other parts of the body, so they are the least deadly.

2. Melanoma: The deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma begins in skin pigment cells and is most likely to spread to other parts of the body.

3. Squamous Cell Skin Cancer: These cancer cells sometimes spread to other parts of the body, but not as much as melanoma.

More information on these three skin cancers can be found from the NCI here: http://1.usa.gov/SkinCancer.

How to protect yourself

The American Cancer Society says if caught early enough, skin cancer can usually be treated effectively.

"Finding possible skin cancers doesn't require any x-rays or blood tests -- just your eyes and a mirror," the society says on its website. Individuals can check their own skin, preferably once a month, for any suspicious growths or changing moles.

People should also limit their exposure to the sun. Besides wearing sunscreen, the Cancer Society suggests slipping on a T-shirt, wearing a hat and sporting some sunglasses. Also, stay away from tanning beds and sunlamps.

For more healthy living tips, visit TriWest's Healthy Living Portal at www.triwest.com/healthyliving.

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