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To avoid developing a skin cancer, there are some simple everyday precautions you can take.

Avoid using tanning beds or sun lamps, wear protective clothing, and use sunscreen, sunglasses, and lip balm every day, especially on days when you know you will spend time outdoors between the hours of 10AM and 4PM.

The American Cancer Society reports that skin cancer is the most common type of all cancers.


Can I get skin cancer anywhere on my body?

While skin cancers usually appear on skin that has been chronically exposed to the sun (like the head, neck, arms, and chest), you can get skin cancer anywhere – even on skin that has rarely or "never" been exposed to the sun (for example, the genitals).



What can I do to protect myself from skin cancer?

The damage that your skin has already received from the sun cannot be completely reversed. However, several precautions can be taken to reduce your risk of developing further skin cancers:


  • Minimize sun exposure from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM when the sun's rays are the strongest. If you enjoy outdoor activities such as golfing, gardening, running, walking, or boating, try to schedule them outside of these "peak sun hours."

  • Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater at least one half hour before going outdoors and reapply as directed on the product label. Look for products containing titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide. These products have the highest chance of providing broad spectrum protection, blocking UVA and UVB rays. Choose a cream-based sunscreen if you have dry skin, and a gel-based, or non-comedogenic formula if you have oily or acne-prone skin. Choose a "very water resistant" formula if you will be sweating or in water; however, remember that even these must be reapplied every 80 minutes. If the ears or portions of the scalp are exposed due to short or thinning hair, remember to apply sunscreen to these areas as well.

  • Protect your lips with lipstick or a lip balm containing sunscreen.

  • Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

  • Avoid use of the UV beds at tanning salons.

  • Make sure to use sunscreen on overcast days. The ultraviolet rays can be as damaging to your skin on cloudy, hazy days as they are on sunny days.

  • Use a sunscreen while at lower latitudes or high altitudes. The sun is stronger near the equator and at high elevations, where the sun's rays strike the earth most directly.

  • If you need a little "color," use a sunless tanning lotion or get a spray tan.

Will I develop more skin cancers?

Studies have shown that once you develop a skin cancer, there is an increased risk of developing others in the years ahead. For this reason, it is important for you to continue seeing your primary dermatologist at regularly scheduled intervals, and to schedule an appointment if you are concerned about new or changing growths on your skin.


You can reduce your risk of developing more skin cancers by protecting your skin from further sun damage, but continued vigilance on your part is required (along with scheduled visits to your dermatologist) to help detect further skin cancers at an early stage.

Will my cancer come back (recur)?

The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove your skin cancer while preserving your normal healthy surrounding skin. The cure rate for Mohs skin cancer surgery is very high, even for the most difficult tumors. The cure rate is up to 99% for new skin cancers and 85% for recurrent skin cancers (those which have been treated in the past and have come back.) While no method can guarantee a cure 100% of the time, appropriately and correctly performed Mohs surgery provides the highest possible cure rate for most tumors.

What are the most common types of skin cancer? 

Basal Cell Carcinoma
As the most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma accounts for about 80% of all diagnosed skin cancers. It begins in the basal cells, which are skin cells located in the lowest layer of the epidermis. This type of cancer can look like a sore that doesn't completely heal, a shiny bump, or a reddish, irritated portion of the skin in an area that is exposed to the sun, such as the head, ears, face, shoulders and chest. It usually progresses slowly and does not tend to spread to other areas of the body (metastasize). Early detection and treatment can prevent basal cell carcinoma from spreading to surrounding tissue.


Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Potentially more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma forms just beneath the surface of the skin in the squamous layer. While this second most common type of skin cancer often develops on sun-exposed areas, it can develop on other areas of the body like the mucous membranes and genitals. It often looks like a thick, rough, scaly patch or a bump. According to the The Skin Cancer Foundation, more than one million Americans are diagnosed annually with squamous cell carcinoma.

The most dangerous of the common forms of skin cancer is melanoma. While it accounts for only about 3% of skin cancer cases, melanoma is responsible for over 75% of skin cancer-related deaths. The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that more than 9,700 people will die from melanoma in 2017. Melanoma originates in pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, which give the hair, skin, and eyes their color. Melanomas are usually black or brown, and often develop in a mole or take on the appearance of a new mole. If identified early, cure rates for melanoma are quite high. Once melanoma spreads to other parts of the body, cure rates are significantly reduced.

While you can review details about skin cancer, it's important to have your skin regularly examined by a dermatologist. Make an appointment immediately if you find any suspicious areas. Learn about skin cancer symptoms and diagnosis.

More types of skin cancer