May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

  • Everyone us at risk for Skin Cancer. One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime.
  • You can prevent and detect skin cancer:
    • Prevent: Seek shade, cover up and wear sunscreen.
  • See a dermatologist if you spot anything changing, itching or bleeding.
  • Visit for more information.


 Types of Skin Cancer

           Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Two most common forms of skin cancer
  • Arise within the top layer of the skin and can appear on any sun-exposed areas of the body, but are most frequently found on the face, ears, bald scalp and neck.
  • Basal cell carcinoma frequently appears as a pearly bump, whereas squamous cell carcinoma often looks like a rough, red scaly area, an ulcerated bump that bleeds, or a sore that won’t heal.
  • If left untreated these skin cancers can lead to disfigurement.


  • Is the most deadly form of skin cancer.
  • May suddenly appear without, but also can develop from or near an existing mole.
  • Can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the upper back, torso, lower legs, head and neck.
  • Frequently spreads to lymph nodes and most internal organs, making early detection and treatment essential.
  • New, rapidly growing moles or moles that itch, bleed, or change color are often early warning signs of melanoma and should be examined by a dermatologist.


  • More than two million people are diagnosed in the United States annually.
  • Melanoma incidence rates have been increasing for at least 30 years.
  • Caucasians and men over 50 years of age are at a higher risk of developing melanoma than the general population.
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old with rates rising faster in 15-29 year old females than males.
  • Most basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas can be cured, especially if detected and treated early.


Risk Factors

  • Exposure to ultraviolet light, from the sun and indoor tanning devices is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.
  • Caucasians with fair skin have the highest risk of developing any form of skin cancer, including melanoma.
  • Melanoma can strike anyone, but there is an increased risk for individuals who have:
    • Red or Blonde hair, or blue or green eyes;
    • Greater than 50 moles, large moles or atypical (unusual)moles;
    • A blood relative who has had melanoma;
    • A previous diagnosis of either melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer.
    • A history of other previous cancers such as breast or thyroid cancer.


 Sun Safety

  • One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
  •  To protect your skin: Seek shade, wear sun-protective clothing, and apply sunscreen.
  • Check your skin and see a dermatologist if you notice anything changing, growing or bleeding.


 Ultraviolet Radiation

  • Sunlight consists of two types of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that reach the earth-ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Exposure to either can lead to skin cancer. In addition:
    • UV rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots and can pass through window glass. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.
  • The sun emits harmful UV rays year round. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can penetrate the skin.
    •  On a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds.
    • The United States Department of Health & Human Services and the International Agency of Research on Cancer have declared UV radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds, as a known carcinogen (cancer causing substance).
    • There is no safe way to tan. Every time you tan, you damage your skin. As the damage builds, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer.


  How to Protect Your Skin

             The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone:

  • Seek Shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.
  • Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 to all exposed skin.

“Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A(UVA) and ultraviolet B(UVB) rays.

  • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.

   What to look for in a Sunscreen

  • As of December 2012, the FDA now requires sunscreen labels to provide consumers with information about whether a sunscreen will protect against skin cancer in addition to sunburn. New labels also indicate whether or not the product is water resistant.
  • The best sunscreen is one you will use again and again. The kind of sunscreen selected is a matter of personal choice and may vary depending on the area of the body to be protected.
  • Creams are best for dry skin and the face. Gels are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest. Sticks are good to use around the eyes.
  • Sprays are sometimes preferred by parents since they are easy to apply to children. Make sure to use enough of these products to cover the entire surface area thoroughly, and do not inhale these products. It is important to note that current FDA regulations on testing and standardization do not pertain to spray sunscreens. The agency continues to evaluate these products to ensure safety and effectiveness.
  • There also are sunscreens made for specific purposes, such as for sensitive skin or for babies.
  • Some sunscreen products are also available as combination products in moisturizers and cosmetics. While these products are convenient, they also need to be reapplied in order to achieve the best sun protection.

How to Use Sunscreen

  • One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body. Adjust the amount of sunscreen applied depending on body size.
  • Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors.
  • To protect your lips, apply a lip palm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily according to the directions on the bottle.