May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Posted on April 28, 2014

If you have not seen your doctor this year for a professional skin exam, Skin Cancer Awareness Month (May) serves as a good reminder to schedule an appointment.  

Over 90% of all skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Each unprotected exposure increases your risk of developing skin cancer so to help protect yourself:

  • Always Find Shade
  • Avoid Tanning and UV Tanning Booths
  • Cover up with Clothing, a Hat and UV-Blocking Sunglasses
  • Wear SPF 15+ Sunscreen Daily
  • For Extended Outdoor Activity, use a Water-Resistant, SPF 30+ Sunscreen

Types of Skin Cancer

More than 2 million people in the US every year are affected by two of the most common skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).  While SCC is caused by cumulative long-term sun exposure, BCC may be caused by both cumulative and intense, intermittent sun exposure. In addition to BCC and SCC, incidence rates of Melanoma skin cancer have more than tripled in the past two decades as outdoor recreational activities have increased and fashions have left more skin exposed.

You may be at an increased risk of developing skin cancer if you have:

  • A family history of cancer
  • Had serious sunburns or tend to burn easily
  • Large, unusually colored, and irregularly shaped moles

Left untreated, skin cancer can spread to vital organs and become life-threatening so check your skin regularly for lesions that are new, non-healing or changing and contact your doctor if you are suspicious about a skin lesion.


Adapted from the Skin Cancer Foundation