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IU Simon Cancer Center gives away UV bracelets during Colts' home opener on Sept. 13

  

INDIANAPOLIS -- (Sep. 11, 2009) -- Along with painting your face blue and decking yourself in Colts memorabilia, you can sport a UV bracelet during the Indianapolis Colts’ opening home game.

Volunteers with the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center will hand out UV bracelets to kids – and adults -- as a way to remind them about the importance of sunscreens during the Sept. 13 game at the Clarian Corner, located on the southeast corner of Lucas Oil Stadium. The bracelets will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

White beads on the bracelets without any sunscreen applied to them turn different colors when exposed to sunlight. The different colors tell the bracelet wearer that he or she isn’t protected.

When coated with sunscreen while still indoors, the beads remain white outdoors. The white beads mean the sun’s harmful UV rays are being blocked.

The bracelets will be packaged with a free sunscreen sample and helpful information about melanoma. People can also sign up to receive information about upcoming skin cancer screenings.

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can appear suddenly on any part of the body or develop from a mole. Melanoma caused 8,110 of the 10,850 deaths due to skin cancer in 2007, according to the American Cancer Society.

The other types of skin cancer -- basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma -- rarely spread, are less worrisome, and are treated differently than melanoma.

Lawrence A. Mark, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a researcher with the IU Simon Cancer Center, advises people to know their bodies and talk with their physicians about any changes they notice.

What should you look for?

Dr. Mark tells patients to watch for what he calls the “ugly duckling” sign. “If you have a spot that just doesn’t look like any other or act like any other, it is best to have a doctor examine it, just to be on the safe side,” he said.

Dr. Mark and his colleagues use the ABCD’s to evaluate melanoma:

  • A, asymmetry: Half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other half.
  • B, border: Edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
  • C, color: The color isn't the same all over and may have differing shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of red, white or blue
  • D, diameter: The area is larger than six millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser) or is growing larger

Most of the more than one million cases of skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are considered to be sun-related, according to the American Cancer Society.

With that in mind, Dr. Mark recommends these tips – regardless of the season -- for protection against the sun:

  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Dr. Mark explained SPF this way: If your skin begins to redden after being in the sun for one minute, you could expect to be in the sun for 30 minutes while wearing an SPF of 30 before you see the same amount of reddening.
  • Wear appropriate clothing, such as a wide brim hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants.
  • The sun’s rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or so. Limit long periods of time outdoors during these hours.

Overall, if detected and treated early, melanoma has a greater than 95 percent cure rate.

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