The Basics: Overview
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) rays.
To protect your skin from the sun:
- Stay in the shade as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
- Cover up with long sleeves, a hat, and sunglasses.
You can also protect your skin by avoiding indoor tanning.
Why do I need to protect my skin?
Protecting your skin today may help prevent skin cancer later in life. Most skin cancer appears after age 50, but skin damage from the sun can start during childhood.
Taking steps to prevent skin cancer may also help prevent:
- Blotches or spots on your skin
- Other damage to your skin and eyes
The Basics: Definition
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. There are 3 major types of skin cancer:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are also called non-melanoma skin cancer, and they are more common than melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous kind of skin cancer.
Skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your skin regularly for new growths (like moles or lumps) or changes in old growths. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you find a change.
Visit these websites to learn more about skin cancer:
The Basics: Am I at Risk?
What causes skin cancer?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV radiation can also come from tanning beds, tanning booths, or sunlamps.
Anyone can get skin cancer. The risk is highest for people with:
- White or light-colored skin with freckles
- Blond or red hair
- Blue or green eyes
You are at higher risk for the most dangerous type of skin cancer (melanoma) if you have:
- Unusual moles
- A large number of moles (more than 50)
- A family history of melanoma
Find out more about things that may increase your risk for skin cancer. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you are concerned.