9 Tips to Prevent Skin Cancer

By Tawnya Bowles MD

I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on ABC4's 4pm news talking about skin cancer prevention and treatment. Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to share nine tips that will help you reduce your risk of developing skin cancer - after all, Utah has one of the highest rate of skin cancer cases in the nation. Yikes!

prevent-skin-cancer-sunscreen

Before diving into the prevention side of melanoma, or skin cancer, here are some facts you should know:

  • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV radiation can also come from tanning booths or sunlamps. The most dangerous kind of skin cancer is called melanoma.
  • The good news? Skin cancer can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to prevent skin cancer or detect it early on.
  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually.
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.

Now that we understand why we should prevent it, here are nine things you can do to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer... and the earlier you start applying these principles, the better off you and your family will be.

  1. Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM
  2. Avoid getting a sun burn
  3. Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths
  4. Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
  5. Use an SPF 30, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen, and use water-resistant sunscreen when needed
  6. Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating
  7. Keep newborns out of the sun - Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months
  8. Examine your skin head-to-toe every month
  9. See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

If you have an abnormal growth or coloration on your skin, or if a mole becomes an irregular shape or larger than a pencil eraser, check with your doctor - because the earlier skin cancer can be detected, the better off you will be. 

There are some other great tips and information from my interview with ABC4. Check it out: