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Idaho’s skin cancer rate among the highest in U.S.

More than 90% of skin cancers are due to UV exposure to sunlight and chronic sun damage, said dermatologist Ryan Wells, MD.

BOISE, Idaho — It’s summer in Idaho and with the hot, sunny weather, people are getting more sun exposure. Illness isn't top of mind while playing outdoors, but sun exposure without proper protection can lead to skin cancer.

Dermatologist Dr. Ryan Wells at Dermatology Clinic of Idaho says, "Over 90% of skin cancers are actually due to UV exposure or exposure to sunlight and just chronic sun damage."

There are three major types of skin cancers: Squamous-cell cancer, basal-cell cancer and melanoma, the most serious cancer.

"Melanoma is a little bit more of a serious skin cancer. It tends to be one that can spread to the rest of the body, so early detection is absolutely key,” Wells said.

Skin cancer cases in Idaho are mostly in adults. Dr. Wells says he is seeing a lower number of cases in the younger generation.

"We are seeing interesting trends. So, a decrease in melanoma in younger patients, so I think we are getting through to younger patients that you hear it all the time, make sure you wear sunscreen. But in the older generation, it's still increasing,” Wells said.

Wells says women younger than 50 are more likely to develop melanoma.

"But then after the age of 50, it’s kind of swaps and men are more at risk for developing melanoma,” he said.

Although skin cancer is mostly discussed during the summer, Wells says it’s important to take preventative care year-round.

"90% of skin cancers we believe are due to sun exposure. So, the best way is to protect yourself from the sun. we recommend wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.” Wells said.

August is Sun Safety Month. Wells says the month is a reminder for those enjoying the sun to make sure to take care of their skin.

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