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Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in the U.S. and is also the most preventable cancer. Most skin cancers are caused by damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

It is estimated that more than 3.3 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer—either basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma—each year. Men are more likely than women to get non-melanoma skin cancer.

Anyone, regardless of skin color, may develop skin cancer. The risk of skin cancer increases as you get older.

Many people have questions about the importance of sun exposure for vitamin D. Some experts say it is better to get your vitamin D from food or supplements rather than from sunlight. Talk to your health care provider about vitamin D and your health.

Screening

Use the ABCDEs of skin cancer below to check your skin once a month for possible signs of melanoma. If you see a mole that concerns you, see your health care provider right away. 

It’s a good idea to have a health care provider examine your skin every year.

Anyone, regardless of skin color, may develop skin cancer. The risk of skin cancer increases as you get older.

What Puts You at Increased Risk for Skin Cancer?

You are at increased risk for skin cancer if you:

  • Spend time in the sun or use sun lamps or tanning beds.
    Smoke.
  • Have blonde, red or light brown hair and blue, gray or green eyes.
  • Have fair skin, freckles or skin that burns easily.
  • Have a personal or family history of skin cancer.
  • Have certain types of genetic problems that affect the skin.
  • Have a weakened immune system.
  • Were treated with radiation.
  • Had sunburns in childhood.
  • Have several moles on your body, especially since birth.
  • Have odd moles or one or more large colored spots on your skin.
  • Have had contact with certain chemicals, such as arsenic in drinking water.
  • Have skin damage from injury or from long-term inflammation.

Reduce Your Risk

  • Avoid being in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when sunlight is strongest. Protect your skin from excessive sun exposure year-round, not just in the summertime.
  • Always use sunscreen SPF 30 or higher with UVA and UVB protection (broad spectrum). Reapply every two hours if you stay in the sun, even on cloudy days.
  • Wear protective clothing, headwear and eyewear.
  • Never use tanning beds or sun lamps.
  • Always use lip balm with SPF 30 or higher with UVA and UVB protection.
  • Check your skin using the ABCDE rule. See your health care provider about any skin changes or to get an annual skin check.
  • Protect children from the sun to reduce their risk of skin cancer later in life.

Asymmetry - Normal

Asymmetry - Abnormal

Border - Normal

Border - Abnormal

Color - Normal

Color - Abnormal

Diameter - Normal

Diameter - Abnormal

ABCDE Rule

Use this rule when looking at moles.

  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularity
  • Color that is not uniform
  • Diameter greater than 6mm
  • Evolving, size, shape or color

Check with your health care provider if a mole on your body doesn’t look right.

Symptoms

Use the ABCDEs of skin cancer to check your skin once a month for possible signs of melanoma. If you see a mole that concerns you, see your health care provider right away.

It’s a good idea to have a health care provider examine your skin every year.

Treatment Options

Most skin cancers found early can be treated successfully. Treatment depends on the type of skin cancer and the stage of the disease.

Common treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemical peel
  • Other drug therapy

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