Skin Cancer: Reducing Your Risks

Protect your skin from harmful rays.

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Legacy doctor and patient talk about skin cancer

What you need to know

The best way to prevent skin cancer: protect your skin from the sun’s rays, sunlamps and tanning beds. These rays (called ultraviolet or UV) can cause skin cancer, including melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma is not the most common skin cancer, but the cases of melanoma are increasing. It is the third most common cancer in people ages 15 to 30. Other skin cancers include basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Understanding the risk factors and causes of skin cancer can help you make better decisions about prevention, including getting regular screenings that can help detect suspicious areas early.

Smart choices

Limiting your exposure to the sun and other sources of ultraviolet rays is your best chance of reducing your risk of developing skin cancer.

  • Avoid the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Use sunscreen, 30 SPF and above.
  • When in the sun, wear clothing that covers your arms, legs and a hat to shade your face.
  • Choose wrap-around sunglasses with at least 90% UV absorption for the best protection for your eyes. You can get melanoma in your eyes.
  • Don’t use sunlamps or tanning beds.
  • Check your skin for unusual moles. Most people have moles, and almost all of them are harmless. However, melanomas look different than other moles. They are larger, more irregular, different colors and change in size, shape and color.
  • Examine your skin from head-to-toe every month and get screened by a healthcare professional once a year.

Schedule an appointment

If you find a mole that looks unusual or other signs or symptoms of skin cancer, contact your primary care doctor or dermatologist. Many doctors will do a routine check of moles. If a doctor thinks your mole is a melanoma, a sample of it can be sent for tests. The earlier the skin cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.