3 things to know about skin cancer

UV exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.

May is National Skin Care Prevention and Detection Month, and the American Academy of Dermatology is encouraging you to practice safe sun every time you are outdoors. Here are 3 things to know about skin cancer.

1. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US, and the most treatable when caught early.

The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. It is estimated that approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.

2. Early sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer, especially if you experienced frequent sunburns as a child.

No matter your age, gender or race, everyone needs to use protection against the sun. Seek shade, wear protective clothing, and use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30+ to reduce your risk. Sunscreen has been proven to reduce the risk of most skin cancers, so it’s important to use a good sunscreen daily – even in the winter months.

Limit your outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest.

3. Fair skin, blue eyes or red hair face a greater risk, as well as patients with a weakened immune system.

Exposure to radiation or certain substances like arsenic or coal tar may increase your risk. People who smoke are also more likely to develop skin cancer, especially on the lips.

Regular skin checks by your doctor is key to early detection. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you do a head-to-toe self examination of your skin monthly, and tell your doctor if you see any new, unusual or changing moles or skin growths.

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