Skin Cancer Risks and Prevention

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The 3 most common skin cancers are:
1. Basal cell cancer
2. Squamous cell cancer
3. Melanoma
Basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer are highly curable. Melanoma is more dangerous.

Early detection is important in treating skin cancer. If you notice any suspicious skin markings or any changes in the way your skin looks, talk to your doctor right away.

Who is at risk of getting skin cancer?

Anyone can get skin cancer, but people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop skin cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-some general risk factors are:
  • A lighter natural skin color
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • A personal history of skin cancer
  • Exposure to the sun through work and play
  • A history of sunburns early in life
  • A history of indoor tanning
  • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun
  • Blue or green eyes
  • Blond or red hair
  • Certain types and a large number of moles

How to prevent skin cancer

Ultraviolet (UV) rays exposure plays a big part in skin cancer. According to the CDC, protect/limit your exposure to UV radiation by:
  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours (10am to 4pm-daylight savings times, 9am to 3pm standard time)
  • Wear clothing to protect exposed skin
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible
  • Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection. Put sunscreen on before you go out. Reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours, and after you swim or do things that make you sweat.
  • Avoid indoor tanning
UV protection is not limited to sunny days, it's important all year round. UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy and hazy days. UV rays reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. So you can still get a sunburn in the middle of winter.

Find, compare & rate dermatologists near you

Learn more about skin care & dermatologists:

How to find the best dermatologist
What is acne?
What is a dermatologist?
What is eczema(aka dermatitis)?
What is melanoma?
What Is psoriasis?