May is Skin Cancer Awareness Monthposted by Brent Brown on May 10, 2021
In May of each year, as more activities and events move outdoors, the Comprehensive Cancer Control Section of the Division of Chronic Disease, Primary Care and Rural Health highlights Skin Cancer Awareness Month and urges everyone to enjoy a sun safe summer.
What Is Skin Cancer?
Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common types of skin cancer. They begin in the basal and squamous layers of the skin, respectively. Melanoma, the third most common type of skin cancer, begins in the melanocytes.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. Too much sun can cause skin cancer. Spending time outside is a great way to be physically active, reduce stress, and get vitamin D. You can work and play outside without raising your skin cancer risk by protecting your skin from the sun.
Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays can damage skin cells.
Protection from UV rays is important all year, not just during the summer. UV rays can reach you on cloudy and cool days, and they reflect off surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. In the continental United States, UV rays tend to be strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daylight saving time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time).
If the UV index is 3 or higher in your area, protect your skin from too much exposure to the sun.
Stay safe this summer with these tips from the CDC:
- Use a layered approach for sun protection
- Sunscreen works best when used with shade or clothes and must be reapplied every two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
- Use broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 to protect exposed skin.
- Wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing to shield skin.
- Seek shade, especially during midday hours.
Have a sun safe summer! For more information about skin cancer, the risk factors, prevention, and detection visit: cdc.gov/cancer/skin.