Skin Cancer Prevention

Delaware ranks 3rd in the nation for skin cancer diagnosis!

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month: here are some tips to stay sun safe now, and all year long.

Tip 1: Everyone is at Risk!

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and protecting yourself from both UVA and UVB rays is the best way to decrease your risk. Ultraviolet (UV) rays damage the outer layer of the skin: the more you are exposed to these damaging rays (long-term sun exposure, sunbathing, indoor tanning, getting a sunburn), the higher your risk for developing skin cancer. And you can be exposed to these UV rays 365 days a year, not just in the summer!  Exposure to the sun, and its UV rays, can also cause premature aging, wrinkles, age spots, and uneven skin tone.

Tip 2: Protect Your Skin!

There are simple things you can do to protect your skin from the sun:
1. Apply sunscreen to your whole body (not just the exposed bits) 30 minutes before going outside.
2. Use a water-resistant sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection.  Make sure it is broad-spectrum and SPF 15 or higher.
3. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, immediately after swimming, or after excessive sweating.
4. Seek shade, especially between peak sun exposure hours of 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
5. Wear wide-brimmed hats to cover your head, face, neck, and ears.
6. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that block 99% or more of UV light.

Tip 3: Know Your Sun Facts!
  • The sun’s rays can reach you on cloudy or hazy days, and reflect off of water and sand.
  • Wearing a sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater can drastically decrease your risk of skin cancer
  • People with an increased risk for skin cancer include:
    • Those with family histories of skin cancer.
    • Those with fairer complexions (more likely to sunburn, which increases risk)
    • Those with freckles.
    • Those with blonde or red hair, and blue or green eyes.
    • Those who work or play outdoors frequently
    • Those with a history of indoor tanning
Tip 4: Check It Out!

Check all exposed and unexposed parts of your body.  A change in a mole, a new growth, or even an unhealed sore can be a sign of skin cancer.  Use the ABCDE Rule of Melanoma:

A – Asymmetry.  One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
B – Border. The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
C – Color. The color of the mole is not the same all over, and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
D – Diameter. The spot is larger than 6 milimeters across (about 1/4 inch, or the size of a pencil eraser).
E – Evolving. The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Tip 5: If You’re Not Sure, Ask!

Some melanomas do not fit these rules, so please tell your doctor about any changes, new spots on the skin, or growths that do not look the same as the rest of your moles.  Please see a dermatologist if you identify anything suspicious.