Skin Cancer: Easy to Contract, Yet Easy to Prevent

The old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Skin cancer is the most common cancer both nationally and internationally. [1-3] The National Cancer Institute has estimated that there are more than two million new cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer, and over 76,000 new cases of melanoma in the United States alone for 2014. [4,5] Everyone is susceptible to skin cancer regardless of skin type. [6] However, because the majority of skin cancers are environmentally related, it is also one of the more preventable cancers.

The three most common types of skin cancer are: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are considered to be less harmful, as they are less likely to be widespread or result in death. However, these nonmelanoma skin cancers should not be taken lightly because they can be malignant at a localized level. [7,8] Melanoma, on the other hand, has a tendency to be more aggressive, especially if not detected early. It accounts for 75% of all deaths associated with skin cancer [9].

There are a few preventative measures that are ubiquitous for the majority of skin cancers. The greatest risk factor for skin cancer is sun exposure. [10] Dermatologists suggest the following precautions to reduce the risk of skin cancer:

· If possible, avoid the sun between the hours of 10am-4pm because this is when the sun is the strongest. [6]

· Use sun protection at all times (sunscreen, moisturizer that has sunblockers, etc.). Make sure it has an SPF of 30+ and that BOTH UV-A and UV-B protection are present.

· Wear long sleeve shirts, long sleeve pants, sunhats and sunglasses when outdoors. [11]

· Wear a wide brimmed hat because wearing visor caps or baseball caps expose the ears, and the ears are very sensitive to the sun. [12]

· Avoid artificial tanning booths.

UV-B is direct sun exposure while UV-A is reflected sunlight through a medium (such as glass). UV-A penetrates the skin more deeply and is primarily emitted by tanning booths. [13] Natural sunlight is rich in Vitamin D, and thus moderate exposure can be beneficial such as during the early morning hours, or late afternoon. [14] However, preventative measures must still be taken.

These measures are especially important for people who are exposed to natural or artificial sunlight over a long period of time, and those of fair complexion. In addition, children need special attention because they tend to spend more time outdoors and can be burned easily. [12]

Overall, these simple steps can be taken to ensure that skin cancer is avoided regardless of age or skin type. Although this site is focused on the treatment of cancer, if cancer can be prevented, then that is most favorable.

Finally, it is always a good idea to consult your dermatologist or skin care professional before starting any skin regiment.




3. WHO Skin Cancer

4. National Cancer Institute: Skin  

5. National Cancer Institute: Melanoma

6. Anyone Can Get Skin Cancer

7. Healthcentral: Basal Cell Carcinoma

8. Healthcentral: Squamous Cell Carcinoma



11. National Cancer Institute: Prevention

12. Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention

13. UV-A and UV-B



SC Ali

About SC Ali

S.C. Ali is an author/editor. He has a degree in Chemistry, and is interested in the study and practice of medicine. His blog can be found here:

SC Ali

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