Idaho leads the nation when it comes to melanoma deaths. Here in the Gem State, we average 26 percent higher than the national average, with 40 Idahoans dying of melanoma every year according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's skin cancer state statistics. How can we break the statistics, and reduce the amount of deaths due to skin cancer? Here are skin cancer facts every Idahoan needs to know. 

1. What is skin cancer?  Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, this occurs when un-repaired DNA damage to the skin cells triggers mutations, that multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. The three main types are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

2. Is skin cancer preventable? While skin cancer can form due to genetics, skin exposure and other factors, prevention is key! Using a high SPF sunscreen daily that you reapply frequently is recommended. Likewise, wearing protective clothing like hats can help limit the amount of exposed skin.

3.  How important is it to find skin cancer early and what should we be looking for?  It's important to find skin cancer early. By going in for regular skin cancer checkups,  you're more likely to find skin cancer early, and treat the spots before they spread.

4. Can you get skin cancer on your head even if you have hair?  Yes. Hair is very thin and your scalp can still get burned. It's suggested that women use hair products with built-in SPF and that men and women both apply sunscreen along your part. As mentioned above, it's always suggested to wear a hat when you can to limit your scalp's sun exposure.

5. Who's high risk?  Patients with very fair skin, light color hair, blue eyes, red hair, and those who don't tan well are a much higher risk of getting skin cancer.  They should have more frequently by a skin care professional and self monitor.

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