Tips for Preventing Skin Cancer

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., ACCESS Media Relations Specialist
May 26, 2016

As temperatures rise and days grow longer, it is important to protect your skin while enjoying time outside.

Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancers. When found early, it is also one of the most successfully treated. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma.

Melanoma accounts for only 2 percent of cases, but is the most deadly and occurs in people of all ages. Early detection significantly increases survival rates in melanoma cases. It is important to become familiar with the various freckles, moles and birthmarks on your skin and learn to spot any abnormalities.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the following simple prevention techniques such as daily application of SPF 15 or more to the head, neck, arms and hands to reduce melanoma incidence by half. Other tips include:

  • Use a broad spectrum (protects from both UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
  • Generously apply at least one ounce of sunscreen, 15 minutes before heading outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Avoid getting sunburn. Skin damage is cumulative and the lifetime risk of developing melanoma after five sunburns doubles.
  • Find some shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the UV rays are strongest. Wear a hat or find a shady spot under an umbrella.
  • Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds.
  • Visit your doctor or dermatologist for regular check-ups. Report any unusual spots or marks.
  • For effective UVA/UVB protection, be sure to choose sunscreen products that contain some combination of the following ingredients: avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.​