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07-21-2007, 09:24 PM
As summer approaches, so does your exposure to sun rays which can be damaging to your skin. LifeMasters -- a national leading provider of disease management programs -- encourages individuals to practice "skin smarts" during these hot summer months. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Individuals can be affected by three common types of skin cancer:

1. Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer which often appears on the head, neck and hands as a small bump, nodule or red patch. If found early, it is highly curable.

2. Squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of skin cancer, usually located on the rim of the ear, the face, lips and mouth, and may appear as a bump or as a red, scaly patch. Like basal cell carcinoma, if found early, it is highly curable.

3. Malignant melanoma, the most deadly of skin cancers. If it is not removed at an early stage, it can spread rapidly to other parts of the body and cause death.

"Exposure to the sun is a key factor in the development of skin cancer," said Mary Jane Osmick, M.D., vice president and medical director at LifeMasters. "Anyone can get skin cancer, but individuals with a family history of skin cancer, fair skin that sunburns easily, and/or chronic exposure to the sun are at a higher risk for getting it. Early detection is key for curing all types of skin cancers. If you see a mole or skin lesion that changes, itches, or just looks funny, make sure you have it evaluated by a doctor. Most importantly, protect your skin from the sun."

Dr. Osmick offers the following tips to maintain sun safety:

LifeMasters' Tips for Sun Safety

1. Stay out of the sun as much as possible: The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation or "rays" that damage skin cells, making them more likely to become cancerous. Staying out of the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the UV rays are most intense can decrease your risk for skin cancer. If you must be in the sun during this time, wear a hat, long sleeves and pants or use an umbrella, if possible.

2. Apply sunscreen: Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen year-round -- one that covers UVA and UVB rays (even on cloudy days) with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to block UV rays. Reapply sunscreen generously every two hours if you are in the sun or after swimming, using at least a tablespoon-size portion every time you apply it. Also, sunscreen expires and loses its effectiveness over time, so be sure to purchase a new bottle each summer. Many skin lotions also contain sun screens and can be used every day to protect your skin.

3. Avoid tanning salons: Keep out of tanning salons and artificial tanning devices that use UV rays, as they damage your skin as much as the sun does.

4. Wear sunglasses: Eyes are also vulnerable to the sun's damaging rays. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses when outdoors.

5. Check your body for skin changes: Become familiar with your moles so that you notice a change or new growth on your skin. Check your skin once a month from head to toe; use a mirror, or have someone help you look at your back, backs of your legs and arms and other areas that are hard to view on your own.

6. Have an annual skin examination: If you have had a lot of sun exposure, previously had skin cancer, or have a family history of skin cancer, it is essential that you visit your doctor and have an annual skin exam. Your doctor can check your skin during your regular physical examination. You may also want to talk to your doctor about seeing a dermatologist, especially if you are at high risk.

About LifeMasters Supported SelfCare, Inc.

LifeMasters Supported SelfCare, Inc. is a leading provider of disease management programs and services that create health partnerships among individuals, their physicians and payors. Its mission is to empower individuals to achieve and maintain optimal health. The programs improve quality of care for people with chronic illnesses, reduce chronic-disease costs for payors and provide decision-support tools for physicians. LifeMasters offers programs for individuals with diabetes, congestive heart failure (CHF), coronary artery disease (CAD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension and asthma (all of which are fully accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and URAC), cancer, metabolic syndrome and musculo-skeletal pain. LifeMasters' programs are holistically focused, support co-morbidities such as depression and facilitate lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and weight loss.

Founded in 1994 by a physician, LifeMasters works with some of the nation's leading health plans, employers, retirement systems and governmental organizations, including Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, and Presbyterian Health Services in New Mexico. More information about LifeMasters can be found at http://www.lifemasters.com (http://www.lifemasters.com/).

LifeMasters
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