Skin Cancer Prevention Information

What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer, like other cancers, is an uncontrolled growth of cells. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer; over 2 million new cases were detected in the U.S. alone in 2010 and its occurrence is rising in all races.

Although skin cancer is most often found on skin exposed to the sun, it also occurs in other areas. There are three major types of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma.

On the left, examples of melanomas. On the right, normal skin moles.
On the left, examples of melanomas. On the right, normal skin moles. | Source

Skin Cancer Prevention-Ultraviolet Light

The number one method of preventing skin cancer is to avoid exposing your skin to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Whether you do this through the use of clothing and hats covering your skin or the use of sunscreens makes little difference, but it is important to do every season of the year.

It's easy to discount effects of the sun on your skin when the weather is cold and frosty, but those rays of sunshine are no less efficient at exposing you to their ultraviolet rays than in the warmer months.

The use of tanning beds and tanning lights also expose your skin to harmful ultraviolet radiation.

The American Cancer Society explains the three types of ultraviolet rays and the potential for damage each type can do: UVA rays cause your skin to age and wrinkle and may damage DNA in cells and are thought to be a cause of skin cancer. UVB rays directly damage DNA in cells and are the rays responsible for sunburns. These rays have been linked to most skin cancers. UVC rays are unable to penetrate our atmosphere and are not usually a cause of skin cancer.

Nothing protects you completely from all the UV rays of the sun. A darker, more tightly woven material in clothes affords more protection than lighter colors and lighter weight materials. If you can see through the fabric, the UV rays can penetrate it.

The clothing market now offers some clothes that have been specially treated to block UV rays. Additionally, there are now products that you can use in the laundry that afford greater UV protection to clothing washed in them.

Wear sunglasses to protect both your eyes and the delicate skin around your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun.

The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Cancer Society recommend using a sunscreen with a SPF factor of at least 30. The higher the SPF factor, the more protection from UV rays, but not sunscreen protects 100 percent.

Sunscreen should be applied thickly and re-applied often--every 2 hours for most sunscreens. One ounce--or a palmful--of sunscreen should be used to cover an adult's arms, legs, face and neck. Don't neglect the outside of your ears.

Skin Cancer Prevention Risk Factors

Although all races and skins types develop skin cancer, light-skinned people are more prone to skin damage from the sun. Light skin burns more easily than dark skin because there is less melanin in the skin. Melanin, which produces skin pigment, offers some protection against UV rays. And light skin burns more easily from the sun; sunburns are thought to be one of the causes of melanomas.

People with a family history of skin cancer are more likely to develop the condition than those people without such a history.

People with a large amount of moles, irregular or large moles may be more apt to develop skin cancer due to UV ray exposure.

If you live or vacation at high altitudes, your risk of radiation from UV rays is higher than those who do not.

Certain autoimmune disorders make people more vulnerable to the harmful effects of the sun, such as lupus.

A variety of medications increase your vulnerability to develop skin cancer: Birth control pills, tetracyclines, some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen, phenothiazines and triclyclic antidepressants. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist if any of the medication you are taking causes increased photosensitivity (more prone to the negative effects of UV rays).

Important Skin Cancer Facts

Skin Cancer Prevention: What You Can Do

The American Cancer Society recommends checking your skin once a month to detect any changes in moles, blemishes or freckles. In this way, you'll be able to detect when new discolorations or suspicious spots. Changes in moles or other skis areas such as an increase in size, bleeding, change in shape or texture should be reported to your health care provider as soon as possible.

Early detection is as important as prevention when it comes to skin cancer.

Once a year, during your routine check-up or during a visit with a dermatologist, have your skin examined thoroughly for skin cancer. If you are in one of the high-risk groups to develop skin cancer, talk with your health care provider to determine if more frequent examinations of your skin are warranted.

One in five Americans are projected to develop skin cancer during their lifetime; don't be that one. Think prevention, then early detection.

Authoritative skin cancer resources: American Cancer Society

                                                         National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention

                                                         American Academy of Dermatology

Skin Cancer Research

On August 15, 2011, the Archives of Dermatology published a cohort study examining the relationship of vitamin D to the risk of developing squamous cell or basal cell skin cancers. The study included over 3200 participants ans study authors note it is the largest study of its kind to date.

Conclusions of the study indicate that increased levels of vitamin D correlate with increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancers on UV-exposed body sites, though was non-significant for increased risk of these cancers on non-UV-exposed body sites.

Although study results may be indicative of increased levels of vitamin D being associated with increased risk of some skin cancers, exposure to UV rays to body sites cannot be ignored as possible causative factors.

Further research will need to be done to determine definitely whether vitamin D levels are in fact related to increased incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers.

In a study report presented at the 10th annual American Association for Cancer Research's international conference on cancer prevention, held October 22 to October 25, 2011, findings indicated that three or more cups of coffee daily were associated with lower incidence of basal cell skin cancer in both men and women.

Researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston reviewed data from more than 100,000 participants for this study. Decaffeinated coffee did not provide the same lowering of basal cell skin cancer as did regular coffee, leading the study authors to conclude that caffeine is the likely substance offering this increased protection.

Melanoma and squamous cell skin cancer incidence was not affected by coffee drinking.

VisiDerm Skin Monitoring System; Chart Growth of Moles and Skin Spots
VisiDerm Skin Monitoring System; Chart Growth of Moles and Skin Spots

An easy-to-use method to track moles yourself and alerts you when suspicious changes have occurred.


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Comments 28 comments

sisterofdummy profile image

sisterofdummy 6 years ago

I know someone who is obsessed with checking her moles every day to make sure that nothing is out of the ordinary.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Sisterofdummy, if your friend hasn't seen a doctor in a while, maybe you could suggest she see one. Maybe that would help put her unreasonable fears to rest.

ImChemist profile image

ImChemist 6 years ago

This wonderful information , thanks for sharing it .

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Appreciate you stopping by to read and comment, ImChemist.

M. Christy 6 years ago

Knowing the ABCDE mole change warning signs and personal vigilance is essential in stopping skin cancer and preventing melanoma. A large problem is getting people to notice subtle mole changes and make that call to a doctor.

An educational, one-of-a-kind health monitoring kit is making it easier for everyone to notice subtle mole changes and early signs of skin cancer and melanoma. It is the Visiderm Skin Monitoring System and is available online.

Visiderm is the ONLY PRODUCT that records and tracks EVERY mole change warning sign: Asymmetrical, Border, Color, Diameter and Evolving. The Visiderm System was recently featured on the hit medical talk show THE DOCTORS.

This economical and educational product does not diagnose skin cancer, but allows the user to notice subtle changes in a mole and prompt that essential call to a dermatologist. "YOU WON'T KNOW IF YOU DON'T GO (to the doctor) ".

Visidem can also be used in the physician’s office to record patient mole information and be retained in the patient's file for professional follow-up.

Visit for complete product details, to order Visiderm and for valuable skin cancer prevention information and links.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

M.Christy, thank you for this valuable information.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Excellent information you provided here. We all need to do what we can to protect ourselves. Thanks for the education and awareness. This hub serves a real purpose in prevention. Thanks for putting this together.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Thanks, toknow. The increasing incidence of skin cancer diagnosis indicates to me that many people aren't taking the danger of the sun's rays seriously enough.

goprisca profile image

goprisca 5 years ago from Bangalore

Hai Woodard

Thanks, You have shared such a valuable information.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

I'm glad you found the information useful, goprisca.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Great informative hub. I have always wondered what it looked like but never bothered to look it up and with your pictures above I can now see. Thanks so much for writing this.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Susan, you are most welcome. I've just learned in the last few weeks that a family member has been diagnosed with skin cancer; we are waiting on the test results to learn which type of cancer it is.

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

Very informative hub. I did once remove one of my moles due to melanoma prediction. I was scared to death before it was removed. Thanks God it was not harmful at all. Voted up and SHARED.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Thelma Alberts, I'm pleased to learn your suspicious mole didn't turn out to be melanoma. It can be frightening to await the results of a biopsy, but not any more so than just suspecting you may have skin cancer and doing nothing about it.

Thanks for SHARING.

SanneL profile image

SanneL 5 years ago from Sweden

Valuable and excellent information in the prevention of skin cancer. The pictures you show is a great help in recognizing the different melanomas.

Voted up and very useful! Sharing this very important hub!

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

SanneL, I found the picture useful myself in trying to determine which of my moles might be suspect for skin cancer. I hope more people will take the necessary precautions to reduce their exposure to skin-harming ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Thanks for SHARING.

cheatlierepeat profile image

cheatlierepeat 5 years ago from Canada

This is a great hub and so important. My father passed away in 1988 (at the tender age of 43) due to malignant melanoma. He had a mole along his waistline, that his belt would irritate from time to time, being a man he chose to ignore it for several months. When my Mother finally got him to the Dr it had already spread. He battled cancer for three years. I was only young but I remember how much he tried to hide the pain and sickness from my sister and I. I have my moles checked twice a year by a dermatologist. I have had 3 removed and one small surgery on my hairline for basal cell carcinoma (which turned out ok in the end) It is nothing to take lightly or ignore. Thanks for sharing the information and making the message important.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Cheatlierepeat, I am sorry for the loss of your father at such an early age, but appreciate you sharing his story with us. It points out the reality of not taking the potential of skin cancer seriously, particularly in the early stages.

I thank you for sharing your information.

Topanga 4 years ago

I had what looked like a freckle, on my lower eyelid. I called it to the attention of my doctor; she sent me to an opthamologist. He "was sure" it was nothing, but sent me to an opthamol. plastic surgeon. She biopsied it, and it was a melanoma! It was in situ, and she got all clear margins. I am so thankful! I have dozens of moles and am now hyper vigilant about any changes!

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wwolfs 4 years ago

This is a great hub. Really good information and so important. Many don't always think it's serious to use sunscreen protection or think skin cancer is serious.

My father had skin cancer and after seeing many others with it at a cancer center, it was definitely an eye opener. He didn't think the sore he had was serious and it caused him much facial damage by him waiting to have it checked. Though that wasn't his cause of death it was very sad what he went through.

Thank you for sharing. Hopefully, it will remind others of how important their skin is and the protection it needs in the sun.

Voted up and useful!

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Topanga, thank you for sharing your experience with us. I'm happy to hear your vigilance paid off and that the melanoma had not metastasized.

Your experience reinforces the importance of prevention and detection.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Wwolfs, thank you for sharing your father's experience. It must have been difficult for him and for those of you who loved him.

I do hope the information in this hub and similar information is heeded by more people all the time, but I find even within my own circle of friends and family that I have difficulty being instrumental in people adopting safer habits in the sun.

Thanks for SHARING.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

You did a wonderful job with this Hub to advise readers how to prevent skin cancer. I've had several basal cell CA's removed because I used to bake in the sun.

I voted this Hub UP, and will share.

May I link this Hub into the one I wrote about the Mohr's surgery I had to remove Basal Cell Cancer?

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Mary615, I'm pleased to know you found the information about skin cancer prevention to be pertinent and would be delighted if you link to it -- providing I may link to yours on the Mohr's surgery.

Thank you for Sharing.

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Skin cancer is a prevalent threat here in sunny Southern California. Great information here, though I try to avoid the sun as much as possible just out of personal preference. Voting this Up and Useful. Shared.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Alocsin, I've never been a sun worshipper myself, but I do spend a fair amount of time outdoors between lawn work and gardening. Even the UV rays of the sun that come through car windows can affect your skin, so I think it's good to know what to look for.

Thanks for Sharing.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Ausmedus, I appreciate you stopping by to read and comment. Skin cancer awareness and its prevention is one of my personal interests and I enjoy sharing the info with others.

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City Author

Ausmedus, I appreciate the read and the comment. Skin cancer is a condition that any person can develop, so the sooner one knows what to do in the way of prevention, the more likely a positive outcome will be the result.

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