In the dead of winter you may not be thinking about protecting yourself from the sun, but new numbers show melanoma is on the rise in Minnesota.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, melanoma skin cancer is one of the most rapidly increasing cancers in Minnesotans.
From 2005 to 2009 melanoma rates in Minnesota increased by 38 percent for women and by 35 percent for men.
According to Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger, if melanomas are not found early they can spread to other parts of the body and can become deadly.
Risk factors for melanoma include family history, fair skin, certain types of moles and numbers of moles.
According to the Mayo Clinic, melanomas can develop anywhere on your body but usually develop in areas that have exposure to the sun.
Ehlinger says the best protection against skin cancer is reduced exposure to natural ultraviolet light and tanning beds. He also says the idea of getting a 'base tan' before vacation is a myth- a base tan is just more exposure that adds to your risk of developing skin cancer.
The higher rate of melanoma cases is likely due to an increase in exposure to ultraviolet light and better detection.
Click here to view an interactive map of melanoma cases reported in Minnesota from 2005 to 2009.
Last spring Dave Dahl shared his experience with skin cancer. Watch the video above.