courtesy, GULF NEWS Can skin cancer be prevented? Avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm. Seek shade: Look for shade, especially in the middle of the day when the sun's rays are strongest. Practise the shadow rule and teach it to children. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are at their strongest. Slip on a shirt: Cover up with protective clothing when out in the sun. Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics. Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply a generous amount (about a palmful) and reapply after swimming, toweling dry, or perspiring. Slap on a hat: Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat, shading your face, ears, and neck. If you choose a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen. Wear sunglasses: with 99 per cent to 100 per cent UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin. Follow these practices to protect your skin even on cloudy or overcast days. UV rays travel through clouds. How many people are affected by skin cancer? Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. It accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. More than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are found in this country each year. What are the risk factors for skin cancer? Risk factors for nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancers include: - unprotected and/or excessive exposure to UV radiation - fair complexion - occupational exposures to coal tar, pitch,creosote,arsenic compounds, or radium - family history - multiple or atypical moles - severe sunburns as a child How many people will die from skin cancer? There will be about 10,710 deaths from skin cancer in 2006 ? 7,910 from melanoma and 2,800 from other skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer? Skin cancer can be found early, and both doctors and patients play important roles in detection. If you have any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor. - any change on the skin, especially in the size or colour of a mole or other darkly pigmented growth or spot, or a new growth - scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or change in the appearance of a bump or nodule - the spread of pigmentation beyond its border such as dark colouring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark - a change in sensation, itchiness, tenderness, or pain Who survives skin cancer? For basal cell or squamous cell cancers, a cure is highly likely if detected and treated early. Melanoma, even though it can spread to other body parts quickly, is also highly curable if detected early and treated properly.