Skin cancer

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the U.S. When found early, skin cancer can be treated with success.


  • Recurrent exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause.
  • Artificial sources of UV radiation, such as sun lamps and tanning beds.

Risk Factors

  • Having skin cancer in the past.
  • A family history of skin cancer.
  • Having fair skin that freckles easily, especially with red or blond hair and blue or light-colored eyes.


Depending on the size, type, and stage of the cancer, treatment includes:

  • Surgery. There are many types.
  • Laser therapy.
  • Chemotherapy. One form is a cream or lotion with anticancer drugs that is applied to the skin. Other forms are given through an IV.
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Interferon drugs.
  • Skin grafting.

Questions to Ask

Do you have any skin cancer warning sign listed above?

Self-Care / Prevention

Prevention should start in childhood to prevent skin cancer later in life.

  • Avoid exposure to midday sun (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. standard time; 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daylight savings time).
  • Use a sunblock with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher as directed.
  • Avoid sun lamps and tanning salons.

  • Skin Self-Exam

  • Do a skin self-exam monthly. The best time to do this is after a shower or bath. To check your skin, use a well-lit room, a full-length mirror, and a hand-held mirror.
  • Locate your birthmarks, moles, and blemishes. Know what they look like. Check for a sore that does not heal.
  • Check all areas.
    1. 1 Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror. Then, raise your arms and look at the left and right sides.
    2. 2 Bend your elbows and look carefully at the palms of your hands. Make sure to look at both sides of your forearms and upper arms.
    3. 3 Look at the back and front of the legs. Look between the buttocks and around the genital area.
    4. 4 Look at your face, neck, and scalp. Use a comb or blow dryer to move hair so that you can see the scalp better.
    5. 5 Sit and closely examine the feet. Look at the soles and the spaces between the toes.

    {Note: Get a skin exam from your doctor or health care provider as often as advised.}

    Wear long sleeves, sun hats, etc. to block out the skin’s harmful rays.

    Use a full length mirror to do a skin self-exam.

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    Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine

    Explore Wellness in 2021