Skin Cancer Quick FactsLast updated: May 24, 2013
Did you know that it takes only a few sunburns during childhood to increase your risk of skin cancer later in life? It’s true! Depending on your risk, even 1 severe sunburn can lead to skin cancer.
Risk for skin cancer includes having:
- Fair skin and skin that freckles, turns red easily, or is sensitive even after minimal sun exposure
- Blight-colored (blue or green) eyes
- Red or blond hair
- A family history of skin cancer
- Prolonged exposure to the sun at work and play
- Sunburns, especially early in life
People of all skin types can get skin cancer. Only a dermatologist can tell you if you have skin cancer. For these reasons, it is important to get regular skin checkups with a dermatologist.
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To avoid skin cancer:
- Limiting your overall exposure to the sun
- Avoiding the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM when UV rays are strongest
- Staying in the shade when you are outside
- Wearing sunscreen with UV/UVB protection and a sun protector factor (SPF) ≥30
- Avoiding reflective surfaces that can increase your sun exposure in the shade year ‘round
- Wearing tightly woven clothing
- Wearing a brimmed hat that shades your head, face, ears, and neck
- Wearing sunglasses that wrap around your eyes and help block cataract-causing UVA/UVB rays
- Avoiding tanning! There is no safe way to tan
- Avoiding tanning beds and sunlamps; if you use a tanning bed, take the same precautions you use outside
- Seeing your dermatologist at least once a year for a thorough skin check
- Seeing your dermatologist immediately if you have skin areas that do not heal
Skin cancers such as melanoma can spread and be life threatening if it's not treated. But melanoma can be cured, especially if it is found and treated early. Other skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma can be cured and managed when they are found and treated properly.
Signs and symptoms of skin cancer can include areas on the skin that:
- Grow, change shape, and change color
- Don't heal within 2 weeks
- Ooze fluid or blood
- Crust or clot over, and then ooze and / or bleed again