Preventing Skin Cancer and Outrunning the Sun

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Preventing Skin Cancer and Outrunning the Sun

The organization that makes Hoosiers aware wants you to know about melanoma.

INDIANAPOLIS--Before 2011, a diagnosis of melanoma might have meant a death sentence. That has changed, thanks to advances in treatment. But, you should still be aware of how to prevent and detect melanoma and other skin cancers, says Dr. Keeter Sechrist, dermatologist, who is helping promote Outrun the Sun's 15th anniversary celebration.

The organization is a non-profit in Indianapolis. Their mission is to let Hoosiers know one in five people gets skin cancer sometime in their life, and that melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

"The other two types of skin cancer are really more disfiguring, but melanoma can kill," said SeChrist. "It kills one person every hour, so it's not uncommon and unfortunately it's becoming more common."

Shchrist said a new study shows an 800 percent increase in women ages 18 to 39, with melanoma between 1970 and 2009.

"Prevention is key, and if not that, early detection is key," she said. "The biggest thing that we have control over in our lives is the amount of ultraviolet radiation we receive from childhood until the end of life. That is a huge factor."

She said staying out of tanning beds should be a given, and use sunscreen and protective clothing and hats while you are out in the sun. Sechrist also suggested couples check each other for the signs of melanoma, because it's hard for a person to see some parts of their body.

Sechrist said immunotherapy, which involves stimulating the immune system to destroy tumors, became an option to treat melanoma in 2011, and has been successful not as a cure, but as an effective option.

Anita Day, with OTS, said the event at Victory Field on Spet. 21, in Indy, is to celebrate the impact that Outrun the Sun has had in Indiana. The organization supports research at Harvard Institutes of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, NYU, UC-Irvine, Kimmel Cancer Center, MD Anderson, St. John’s University, University of Chicago, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Wake Forest Medical Center and Indiana University. 

The organizatiion will also host the Melanoma Research Forum Nov. 15, in Indy.

PHOTOS: Chris Davis/Emmis

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