By Mona Shand: JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - It's Melanoma Monday in Missouri and across the nation, a day centered on the early detection and prevention of a disease that kills thousands of Americans each year.

Kimberly Dinsdale, media relations manager for the American Cancer Society, says melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, affects many people.

"The estimated number throughout the country is about 73,000 cases will be diagnosed this year of some form of melanoma of the skin." she points out.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a recent year, more than 9,000 Americans died from melanoma, with about two-thirds being male and the rest female.

Melanoma Monday kicks off the broader campaign of May being Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, which encourages regular medical checkups and self-examination.

Dinsdale says another critical thing is avoiding ultraviolet radiation.

"If you're out in the sun, wear protective clothing, slop on sunscreen and wear a hat, so that you can shield yourself from the sun, and shield yourself from those harmful UVA and UVB rays that can potentially cause skin cancer," she advises.

Dinsdale adds that it doesn't matter if it's clear or overcast, or how long you're actually spending out in the sun, every bit of exposure can damage your skin.