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Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Expert Shares UF Health’s Approach to Care, New Advances

Doctor checking for skin cancer on a person's back

May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and UF Radiation Oncology is out to #ChompSkinCancer beginning May 13!

Approximately 5.4 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year in just over 3 million people, making it the most common of all cancers in this country. Eight out of 10 of these are highly treatable basal cell cancers.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month flyer

Squamous cell cancers, on the other hand, occur less often, but can be more aggressive. Melanoma, a type of skin cancer that develops from cells that give the skin its tan or brown color, also occurs less often, but can be deadlier due to its superior ability to metastasize.

Fortunately, when detected early, the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%.

“Here at UF Radiation Oncology, we view melanoma as a curable – or at least controllable – disease and treat patients aggressively for cure with the most sophisticated technology,” explains Robert Amdur, MD, professor, residency program director, and Rodney R. Million Professor of Radiation Oncology.

Florida Ranks No. 2 ... for All the Wrong Reasons

Floridians need to be particularly vigilant. Some studies rank the Sunshine State second in the nation for skin cancer, with approximately 8,000 new cases diagnosed here every year.

While commonly diagnosed, skin cancer should never be taken lightly: It's estimated that 2,000 to 8,000 people die each year from the disease, most because of squamous cell skin cancer. However, basal and squamous cell skin cancers are not reported to cancer registries, unlike most other types of cancer, so the exact number of annual deaths is unknown.

Mitigating Your Risk

Pay attention to any growth that increases in size and appears pearly, transparent, tan, brown, black or multicolored; a mole, birthmark or brown spot that increases in size or thickness, changes color or texture, or is bigger than a pencil eraser; a spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab or bleed; and an open sore that does not heal within three weeks.

Other key facts to keep in mind, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, are:

  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
  • More than two people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
  • Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.

#ChompSkinCancer at the UF Health Davis Cancer Pavilion May 13-24

UF Radiation Oncology will host a patient engagement activity aimed at raising skin cancer awareness from May 13-24. Sunglasses will be available in our clinic lobby to decorate and display. During the week of May 28, a photo booth and fun summertime props will be offered to patients, staff and physicians.

Visit us at the UF Health Davis Cancer Pavilion, 1535 Gale Lemerand Drive, Gainesville, Florida, to help spread the word and raise awareness by posting your pictures with the hashtag #ChompSkinCancer!

For more information about skin cancer, visit the American Cancer Society website and the Skin Cancer Foundation.

About the author

For the media

Media contact

Peyton Wesner
Communications Manager for UF Health External Communications (352) 273-9620