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Preventing skin cancer

Updated: Wednesday, July 30 2014, 06:40 PM EDT

The U.S. Surgeon General is calling on action to prevent skin cancer. A new report said nearly five million Americans are treated for skin cancer ever year.

The number of people diagnosed with the disease has also jumped 200 percent since the early 70's.

Alan Wilcox of South Bristol was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in January of 2013. He said, "Whenever you're diagnosed and the big 'C' word comes up and you hear your named connected with cancer, it throws you back on your heels."

He has since been treated for the disease, but it's something his doctors say he'll have to keep an eye on for the rest of his life. Wilcox now actively keeps his skin safe from the sun.

"I'm covering up all the time, using sun screen, staying out of the sun peak hours," he said.

Dermatologist Allison Holm said skin cancer is now also affecting much younger people in their teens, and twenties.

"There's no such thing as a safe tan or a healthy tan," said Dr. Holm of Dermatology Partners of Western New York. "People often refer to that [tan] as a beautiful tan or you have a healthy glow. We really don't see that as a sign of health anymore. If you have tanned that does indicate you have damage to the skin cells."

Wilcox also wears 'sun sleeves' around the clock. He said the sleeves are made of a breathable material with a UV 50 rating.

His son specifically customized the sleeves to Wilcox's liking, and now they're being sold at select stores and on the web here.

"Out in the hot sun you're actually cooler with the sun sleeves on than you are with the sun hitting your bare skin," said Wilcox.

To read the US Surgeon General's report click here.

To learn more about Wilcox's sun sleeves click here.

Preventing skin cancer

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