Health: Skin-Saving Tips To Prevent Cancer


With the current heat wave, it’s important to take care of your skin while you’re out and about.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting an estimated one in five Americans. The good news is that your chances of getting cancer are reduced by taking preventive action.

The two most common types of skin cancer — basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas — are highly curable, but prevention is still your best option because treatment can be costly and leave scars. Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous especially if not caught early.

Protect Your Skin From the Sun

The ultraviolet portion of sunlight is an invisible form of radiation that can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays appears to be the most important environmental factor involved with developing cancer.

Two Main Types of UV Rays — UVA and UVB

Both contribute to skin damage, including cancer, premature aging/wrinkling, cataracts and suppression of the immune system. UV rays reach you on cloudy and hazy days, too. UV rays also reflect off surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow.

Even UV rays from artificial sources of light, like tanning beds, can cause cancer and should be avoided. If you first used a tanning bed before age 35, your risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent*.

Do Skin Care Checks on Yourself and Look for the ABCDs

Asymmetry — Common moles are round and symmetrical.

Border irregularity — Cancers have uneven borders.

Color changes — Watch for varied shades of brown, tan, or black.

Diameter increases — Look for spots larger than a pencil eraser.

Visit to learn more about ABCDs and to view photos of types of skin cancer.

*Data from the Skin Care Cancer Foundation

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