Houma doctor urges skin awareness on Melanoma Monday - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Houma doctor urges skin awareness on Melanoma Monday

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Houma, La. - With the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky, Rebecca Watkins brought her 4-year-old child out to play. Her children spend a lot of time outdoors.

She says. "I would say at least four to six hours, but in the middle of the summer we try to keep them inside."

Watkins worries about their exposure to the heat and too much sun.

The American Association of Dermatology deemed this Melanoma Monday to help raise awareness about the dangers of the sun's ultraviolet rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation says melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, yet there's a 98 percent survival rate if caught early.

"The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013, there will be 77,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in the United States," says Dr. Jeffrey Long, a radiation oncologist at the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center at Terrebonne General Medical Center. "Tragically, 9,000 people are estimated to lose their life because of melanoma."

Long sees cases of melanoma and other skin cancers more and more often and says people are developing them at younger ages.  The Melanoma Research Foundation says it's the most common cancer among young adults ages 25 to 29.

Doctors say early prevention is key. Just one bad sunburn during childhood more than doubles your risk for melanoma later in life.

Dr. Long recommends wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more anytime you're out in the sun.

He says knowing your skin is also important.  "If there's any mole that seems to be growing or changing color or changing shape, you need to talk to your primary care doctor or dermatologist," says Long.

Rebecca Watkins does what she can to protect her kids' skin.  "When they get a really bad sunburn, it just takes one and your learn your lesson about putting it on them when you haven't before," she says. "They're miserable when they get burnt that way."

The simple action of applying sunscreen could prevent a lot of future pain.

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