A new report puts Connecticut near the top of the list of states with the most skin cancer patients.
A Blue Cross Blue Shield report ranks Connecticut second in skin cancer rates.
Dr. Omar Eton, head of Hartford Healthcare’s melanoma program, said Connecticut may rank high on the list because of the large percentage of insured people in the state compared to other states, and the access people have to doctors who can provide them with diagnoses.
“I think the quality of care in Connecticut is sufficiently high…this might be a tribute to the ability to diagnose and treat, not a reflection of a higher prevalence of skin cancer in our folks,” he explained.
“If you’re in a state where there aren’t enough dermatologists, you’re obviously going to under-report the true incidents in your population,” Eton added.
However, especially with the summer sun around the corner, skin cancer is a real concern and people should protect themselves. Eton said one of the best prevention steps is to limit time outside when the sun is brightest.
“If we can stay out of the sun between 10 and 3 that helps. If we’re going to be on the beach from 10-3, we should be using sunscreen and reapplying it every two hours,” Eton said.
Making sure the sunscreen you use works is just as important as applying it in the first place.
"If you’ve got bottles of sunscreen left over from two or three years ago, throw them away. You should maybe get a new bottle each year. If you’ve got leftover it means you maybe didn’t use enough of it,” Eton said.
Eton said preventing skin cancer also means keeping an eye on your skin, and making sure you see a doctor immediately if anything seems concerning.
“Any mole that’s growing, itching or bleeding, they need to go to the dermatologist,” Eton said.
He also said there’s a shortage of dermatologists in the state and patients hoping to see a doctor may have to wait, but if you see any concerning issues on your skin, he said you should insist seeing someone as soon as possible.