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

Save your skin from cancer

Cases of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) skin cancers have more than doubled over the past decade, especially among men. However, BCC and SCC are rarely deadly and are easy to treat if they are caught early. It is also easy to lower your risk by following standard sun protection practices, including using proper sunscreen, avoiding the sun during peak exposure times, and wearing sun protection clothing and hats. (Locked) More »

The science of sunscreen

 Image: © wragg/Getty Images If you've ever searched online for information about sunscreen, what you found may have made you feel less than sunny about slathering on these lotions and creams. Sunscreen is designed to protect your skin from the sun's damaging rays, but some of the claims made about it suggest it could do more harm than good. Assertions include everything from statements that sunscreen is ineffective to warnings that it's outright dangerous. Some writers even go as far as to state that sunscreen may cause skin cancer, thanks to a purported harmful cocktail of toxic ingredients. That's enough to darken your day. More »

Safety of LED nail lamps

Q. I was worried about drying my nails with a lamp or light box at the nail salon because of the potential risk of cancer from the ultraviolet radiation, but my salon recently switched to LED lamps. Are they safer? A. The light boxes used to cure polish during gel manicures, and to dry traditional nail polish, have raised some concern because — like tanning beds — they emit ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, which is associated with a higher cancer risk. A 2014 study in JAMA Dermatology found that the level of UVA exposure associated with a gel manicure every two weeks probably isn't high enough to increase the risk of skin cancer significantly, but you are wise to be aware of the issue. More »

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 »