MURRAY, Utah (Good Things Utah) – Utahns will gather on Saturday to mark the fight against melanoma, one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer, as part of the 7th Annual Steps Against Melanoma Walk, which aims to raise awareness about melanoma prevention, celebrate survivors, and honor those lost to the disease.

Utah has had the nation’s highest rate of melanoma for 12 of the last 15 years and has ranked among the top three states for melanoma since 2005. Utah’s melanoma rate rose more sharply than any state except Minnesota, per 2019 data.

The 7th Annual Steps Against Melanoma Walk, sponsored by Aim at Melanoma Foundation, will be held this Saturday morning, Sept 16, at 8 am at Golden Hills Park in Cottonwood Heights and includes a kids dash and 5K fun run and walk.

More than 800 Utahns are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.

The good news, according to Tawnya Bowles, MD, Intermountain Health oncology surgeon who specializes in treating melanoma and skin cancer patients, is that skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early.

“The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from sun damage. With summer upon us, it’s especially important to be vigilant about sun protection,” said Dr. Bowles.

Vigilance is also vital when it comes to detecting skin cancer at its earlier and most treatable stage.

“Melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer and is often diagnosed in hard-to-see areas of the body,” Dr. Bowles noted. “Your doctor can see what you can’t.”

A sunburn is a clear sign that the DNA in your skin cells has been damaged by too much UV radiation. In fact, getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.
Sunburn doesn’t have to be raw, peeling or blistering. If your skin becomes pink or red in the sun, it’s sunburnt.

Parents need to be advised to pay more attention to protection from early-life sun exposure for their kids in order to reduce the likelihood of developing melanoma as they grow up. Older individuals should also be cautious with their sun exposure, because cumulative sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer.

Here are 10 skin facts from Intermountain Health that you should know:
1) Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of race or skin color. If you have a darker skin tone, you’ll have more pigment that helps protect your skin, but you’re not immune from developing skin cancer as a result of ultraviolet (UV) damage.
2) Most skin cancer is a result of exposure from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays, but tanning beds and sun lamps are also a source. Skin cancer starts when the UV rays damage the DNA of skin cells.
3) Ultraviolet exposure is strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Seeking shade in those hours or if your shadow appears shorter than you are is advised. Even if it’s cloudy, you’ll want to be cautious. Up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds.
4) Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30. This helps protect you from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and especially after swimming or sweating. Use sunscreen daily, even if you’ll be in the shade.
5) Not all shade is equally protective from the sun. You can be in the shade and still be exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, particularly the UVB rays — these are considered the most harmful part of sunlight, as they can reach the skin indirectly and bounce back from surfaces like sand or concrete.
6) Some medications can cause sun sensitivity. Some medication can cause your skin to be more susceptible to UV rays.
7) Intense athletic training can affect your skin’s immune system. If you’re training for a marathon or any kind of strenuous, long-duration exercise, your immune system may be weakened.
8) If you like the look of a tan, try a self-tanner product or spray, along with sunscreen. Avoid tanning beds as they expose you to UV rays, not to mention cause wrinkles and premature aging.
9) While skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body, the face is a common area. Direct sun is most likely to hit the face, but any exposed area is susceptible, including the head, ears, lips, and neck, and anywhere the skin is exposed.
10) Know the warning signs of melanoma, which include changes in size, shape, or color of a mole or skin lesion, or the appearance of new growth on the skin.

7th Annual Steps Against Melanoma Walk
Saturday, Sept 16, 2023
Golden Hills Park in Cottonwood Heights
Register at

7:30 AM | Registration & Check-In
8:30 AM | Opening Ceremony
8:45 AM | Kids Dash
9:00 AM | 5K Fun Run/Walk

Sponsored by Intermountain Health.