Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States. There are different types of this disease. The two most common are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Melanoma, another type, is less common, but more dangerous. Nearly 70,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and it causes 8,700 deaths. Melanoma is now twice as common as it was two decades ago. The increase is so dramatic that the U.S. Surgeon General has issued a call to action to take steps to prevent melanoma.

One way to protect yourself from skin cancer is by protecting your skin from getting too much of the sun's ultraviolet light. It's especially important to avoid getting sunburned, as this increases the risk of melanoma. Using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing, including a hat with a brim, are good ways to do this.

While sun protection is important for adults, it's even more important for children. Most of the average American's sun exposure happens before age 18. Even a couple of blistering sunburns in childhood increase the risk of later skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Articles

Which is best for optimal sun protection — sprays or lotions?

Spray sunscreens help cover hard-to-reach areas, but they do have potential health concerns from inhaling their chemicals. The FDA has not specifically determined the health risks of inhaling sunscreen sprays, but recently advised not to use them near your face. People are probably better off using a lotion or gel. More »

Do gel manicures increase cancer risk?

The level of risk from UVA radiation delivered by lamps used by professional manicurists to dry gel nail polish increases with the frequency of manicures. Sunscreen and fingerless gloves can protect hands during manicures. More »

Checking for skin cancer

Adequate sun protection when outside is the best way to protect against skin cancer. Yet, even if you are diligent about sunscreen, wear wide-brim hats and long-sleeve shirts, and stay in the shade whenever possible, it may not be enough. You still need to look for early signs of skin cancer, so you can alert your doctor. A regular skin self-exam is the best way to do this. By checking your skin regularly, you'll learn what is normal for you and can more easily note skin changes and abnormalities that require attention. According to the Harvard Special Health Report Skin Care and Repair, the best time to check your skin is after a shower or bath. Use a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror in a room with plenty of light. Follow these five steps to check yourself from head to toe: More »

Adapting to life after cancer

Once you’ve completed therapy, you may face a new set of challenges to your health and well-being, including late effects of treatment, the fear of recurrence, and altered relationships. Your health-care team can help you deal with them. (Locked) More »

5 skin spots you shouldn't worry about

Most skin spots that result from aging or sun exposure are harmless. However, it’s important to be able to distinguish them from solar keratoses, and various types of skin cancer, which require medical attention.   (Locked) More »