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Fit And Well Idaho: Skin Cancer

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By Aimee Burnett

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.

In 2010, a little over 61 thousand people were diagnosed with melanomas, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and more than half of them were men.

9,154 people died in 2010 from melanomas, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Melanoma is probably one of the worst cancers to have. If it's caught early and it's still just at the skin, it's fairly well treated and the prognosis is good, but if it's spread to the lymph nodes, which is near where it started on the skin, or other parts of the body, the prognosis is bad," explains Dr. Jared Manning, medical oncologist at St. Luke’s.

Squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas are considered low risk skin cancers, meaning they're not as likely to spread to other organs.

"The squamous cell carcinoma and the basal cell carcinoma are usually just treated with a surgical resection and a dermatologist treats those," Manning says.

The best way to avoid getting any kind of skin cancer is to minimize sun exposure.

"We do need some exposure to the sun because it helps generate Vitamin D, but it also places us at risk for getting skin cancers," Manning explains.

Fair skinned people are at a greater risk and need to take extra precautions.

"You should avoid peak times in the sun, and that's usually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you're going to be out in the sun, use sunscreen. Depending on how dark your skin is, you can use a SPF 15 up to a SPF 30,” Manning explains.

Dermatologists recommend an SPF 30 for most people.

And, if you're looking for added protection, some clothing lines make clothes with SPF protection.

"If you're going to be swimming or sweating, then you need to reapply sunscreen every two hours," Manning says.

Melanoma is much more common among non-Hispanic whites than people of other races and ethnicities.

More than 9 out of 10 cases of melanoma are diagnosed in non-Hispanic whites.