Skin cancer prevention includes avoiding the sun and other causes of skin cancer, protection against these causes, regular self-examination, and checking suspicious skin changes by a dermatologist.
Avoiding Causes of Skin Cancer
- Avoid direct sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., especially in summer, in regions close to equator (± 30 degrees latitude), and in high altitudes.
- Not only long term exposure, but also short non-regular exposures (minutes) to intense sunlight may increase the risk of a skin cancer. A person with fair skin may get burns in 15 minutes, so avoid getting burns.
Avoiding Tanning Saloons
- UV-A rays from lamps in tanning saloons, once considered as non-harmful, are now recognised as the possible cause of a skin cancer.
- There is no proof that tanning prevents skin cancer.
Avoiding Other Causes of Skin Cancer
- Repeated X-ray or CT investigations, radiotherapy, chemotherapy may increase risk of skin cancer
- Oil and coal by-products (pitch, soot), mostly from air pollution should be avoided
- Arsenic and other substances in pesticides, wood preservatives are cancerogenous.
- Smoking also causes skin cancer
- Causes and risk factors of skin cancer
Protection Against Causes of Skin Cancer
- When choosing a shadow, bear in mind that sunlight can reflect from water or snow, sand, concrete, or any other white or light colored surface.
- Wear long-sleeved cotton shirts, long pants, broad hat (to protect face, neck, scalp and ears), and UV-protecting glasses (skin cancer COMMONLY appears around the eyes) when you are exposed to intense sun.
- Apply sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) at least 15, 30 minutes before sun exposure, and re-apply it every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating. On the beach, in mountains, during skiing and in areas around equator, use sunscreen even when you are in the shadow or in cloudy or cold weather, since sunlight easily reflects from nearby bright surfaces, sand water, and snow, or breaks through the clouds. No sunscreen can completely prevent your skin from harming effect of the sun though.
- Wear protective clothes when dealing with pesticides, lacquers…
- Do not smoke.
- Keep newborns out from the direct sun.
Skin Self-Examination and Checking by Dermatologist
Skin cancers often start to grow insidiously, without pain, and on sites where they are hardly noticed even during changing or washing. So, self-examine your skin once a month:
- You will need bright daylight or a light from a strong lamp, a full-sized mirror and a hand mirror
- Check your body from the head to toes: the scalp, neck, ears and skin around the ears, eyebrows, face – especially eyelids, lips, and all other parts of the body, icluding groin area and nails.
- Every new mole or a mole that has changed in size, color or appearance is suspicious for skin cancer. Check types of skin cancers (pictures included).
- If you are exposed to causes of skin cancers or have risk factors for it, visit a dermatologist once a year to have a thorough skin exam.
Avoid intense sun, use sunscreens regularly, wear protected clothes, and avoid getting sunburns. These are essential measures in prevention of skin cancer.
Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on January 27, 2010