Prevent Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer is now 5 times more prevalent than it was in the 70’s.

Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun. This may be long term exposure, or short periods of intense sun exposure and burning, like when you’re on holiday.

There are 2 main types of non melanoma skin cancer  ̶̶  basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). A history of sunburn or recreational exposure to sunlight increases the risk of BCC. Risk is especially high if you had several episodes of sunburn in childhood. This has also been to SCC in some studies. The risk of SCC is mainly linked to overall sun exposure through your life. This is also linked with BCC but to a lesser degree. This means that outdoor workers such as farm workers, gardeners and building site workers have an increased risk of non melanoma skin cancer.

Fair skinned people with light coloured hair and eyes, or those more likely to burn than tan, are more at risk of skin cancer. This is because their skin makes less of the protective pigment called melanin. People with black skin are less likely to get skin cancer, but they can be at risk particularly in areas not exposed to the sun, such as the soles of the feet and palms of the hands.

Albinism is an inherited genetic condition in which the skin makes no melanin at all. Albino people have very white skin and pale blonde hair. They are at higher than average risk of skin cancer because their skin has no natural protection against the sun.

It has always been thought that UVB is the main risk for skin cancer. Sunbeds produce mostly UVA but all produce some UVB too. UVA damages the skin and is now also linked to skin cancer. We know the use of sunbeds causes melanoma, and there is now evidence that sunbeds may increase the risk of non melanoma skin cancer. The evidence is strongest for a link between sunbeds and SCC.

Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen.


Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.

Do not burn.Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds.

Remember to cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.

Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.



  1. says

    Many cancers are preventable or largely preventable. For some, including skin cancer, preventability is well publicized and people can change their behavior accordingly. For at least one, namely bowel cancer (which can be prevented by finding and removing pre-cancerous “polyps” during a colonoscopy), preventability is under-reported, with catastrophic results.

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