Understand Your Risk

Did you know that five or more sunburns increases your risk for skin cancer?

What is skin cancer and what causes it?

Skin cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the layers of the skin. Almost all skin cancers are caused by exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) radiation found in sunlight and tanning bed light. While the sun—and a tan—may make you feel better, the sun damages skin causing freckles, wrinkles, sagging and skin cancer.

Know the warning signs.

Catching skin cancer early is vital; up to 95 percent of all skin cancers can be cured if detected and treated early. A monthly self-exam is your best defense. Using a mirror, look head-to-toe for:

  • Spots on the skin that change color in size, shape or color
  • Unusual sore, lump, blemish, mark, or change in the way an area of the skin looks or feels
  • Moles that change size, shape, color, bleed, or have ragged edges If you notice any of the above signs, call your doctor right away.

Most skin cancers are preventable.

Being active outdoors is an important part of living healthy, but there are ways to protect your skin when outside. UV rays can penetrate clouds, and are harmful any time of year, so practice these healthy habits winter, spring, summer and fall:

  • Seek the shade. Especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Cover up with clothing, including wide-brim hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Use waterresistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.
  • Dressing infants in lightweight, tight-weave, long pants and long-sleeved shirts is a safer solution.

It’s never too late to begin practicing sun protection year-round. Preventing further sun damage may even help to reverse some sun damage already done.

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I am on military leave. What happens to my family coverage?

If you are on military leave for 31 days or less, you and your family will continue to receive health care coverage for up to 31 days. Coverage continues until the end of the month, after the month in which you are deployed.

If you are on military leave for more than 31 days, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) allows you to continue medical, prescription drug, vision, and dental coverage for you and your family at your own expense for up to 36 months. This continu­ation right is similar to COBRA. Your dependent(s) may also be eligible for health care coverage under TRICARE, the military health plan. For more information on your benefits if you go on military leave, visit the "If You Enter Military Service" on the Life Events page.

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