Summer is Coming: Tips to Prevent Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. In fact, it is probably more common than you think. Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their life? Every year, there are about 3.5 million cases of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed. It is estimated that in 2015, melanoma (a more severe type of skin cancer) will account for more than 73,000 cases of skin cancer. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined.

beach-girl-holiday-5360One of the biggest ways you can reduce your risk for skin cancer is to know how to stay safe in the sun. UV radiation is a proven human carcinogen. And about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are caused by excessive sun exposure (ultraviolet radiation). It’s important to understand the severity of excessive sun exposure and how the skin damaged sustained as a result can lead to skin cancer.

First, let’s look at the risk factors that increase your chances of developing skin cancer. You are at a higher risk for skin cancer if you have fair /lighter natural skin color, moles, family history of skin cancer or a personal history of skin cancer, excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light exposure from the sun, go indoor tanning, a history of sunburns, skin that burns easily, gets red easily, or becomes painful in the sun, freckles, are a male.

Skin cancer IS preventable. Here are some tips to reduce your risk for and prevent skin cancer:

  • Stay in the shade. This is especially important when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest (between 10am and 4pm).
  • Use sunscreen daily. Not just any sunscreen, but a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 or higher daily. Re-apply every two hours. Use a higher, water-resistant SPF if you plan to be outside for a long time.
  • Wear protective clothing. Wear a large hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Avoid indoor tanning beds. Going indoor UV tanning just one time increases your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent. Also, more people develop skin cancer due to tanning than develop lung cancer due to smoking.
  • Self-examine your skin. Check out your skin once a month to monitor for any changes.
  • Get an annual skin exam.


Source: Skin Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society


David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor

View posts by David Samadi, MD - Medical Contributor
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel's Medical A-Team. Learn more at Visit Dr. Samadi's blog at Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
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