Most skin cancers are caused by sun exposure (and in recent years by tanning salons). The longer your body or part of it is exposed to the sun, the greater your risk for skin cancer. Keep your children and yourself protected from the sun at all times, even on cloudy days. If you enjoy tanning, be sure to use sun-protective creams, and reapply them frequently. The effect of sun exposure is cumulative: over time, the periods you spend in the sun add together to increase your risk for skin cancer.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2014 more than 2 million Americans were diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer and 76,100 were diagnosed with melanoma.
Most Common Types of Skin Cancer
- Basal-cell carcinoma forms on the outer layer of the skin and can be removed by freezing or surgery if found early
- Squamous-cell carcinoma is formed on the surface of the skin and can be removed by freezing or surgery if found early
- Melanoma is formed in the deeper layers of the skin and is the deadliest form of skin cancer
Both basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinomas are more common in older people, but they are now also seen in young adults and children.
Who has the Highest Risk?
- People who don’t tan easily (very white skin)
- People whose skin burns easily in the sun
- People with freckled skin
- Use a shade or sun protection between 10 AM and 4 PM
- Avoid sunburns
- Avoid salon tanning; it can be deadlier than the sun
- Cover your body with clothing and wear sunglasses while in the sun
- Use sunscreen with 15 SPF or higher every day
- For long periods in the sun, use sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher
- Use sunscreen on your entire body on the beach; reapply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming
- Check your entire skin periodically
- Keep newborns out of the sun
- See your doctor or a dermatologist annually if you spend long periods in the sun
- National Cancer Institute
- The Skin Cancer Foundation
- The International Melanoma Foundation
- National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention