Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer

sun safety

Approximately one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime, reports the American Cancer Society. Over the past three decades, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. The annual cost of treating skin cancer in the United States is estimated at $8.1 billion. Fortunately, skin cancer can be prevented.

Reduce the risk

1. Use sunscreen every day – Approximately 30 minutes before heading outside, apply sunscreen rated at Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, to protect skin from absorbing the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, especially during the hours of 11 am and 2 pm when the UV index is the highest, and after swimming or working outside.
  • Some sunscreens contain chemicals that may harm skin. Review this guide to find a brand that is safe.
  • Sun damage is cumulative. About 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18.

2. Schedule annual skin checkups – It’s difficult to detect skin cancer unless you know what to look for. Have moles and non-healing sores checked each year by a dermatologist. Between appointments, if you notice any sores that not healing properly, contact your doctor. Learn more about skin melanoma.

3. Avoid tanning beds – Radiation from indoor tanning bed lights can be higher than the sun’s UV rays.

4. Wear protective gear – Before going outside, put on a hat, long-sleeve shirt and pants rated SPF 50 or higher. This means only one in 50 sun rays will be absorbed by the skin.

5. Take precautions if undergoing an organ donation – Organ and bone-marrow transplant patients are approximately 100 times more likely than the general public to develop some type of skin cancer, reports Stanford Medicine. Doctors recommend that patients waiting for a transplant should have their skin checked by a dermatologist and have any precancerous moles and lesions removed.


U.S. News & World Report
Skin Cancer Foundation