7 traits that may increase skin cancer risk

May is Melanoma & Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.

As we head into summer, it’s important to remind ourselves about sun safety and detecting skin cancer early. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in the United States and the deadliest form of skin cancer. The number of new melanoma cases has doubled in the past three decades, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Skin cancer risk factors

Excess exposure to sunlight and other forms of UV radiation is a risk factor for skin cancers, including melanoma. In the United States, the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the most hazardous for UV exposure. Along with excess UV exposure, the following seven characteristics put you at a greater risk for skin cancer:

  1. A lighter natural skin color
  2. Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun
  3. Blue or green eyes
  4. Blond or red hair
  5. Certain types and a large number of moles
  6. A family history of skin cancer
  7. A personal history of skin cancer

How to protect yourself

The American Cancer Society recommends staying in the shade, wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs, using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection, and avoiding tanning beds and sun lamps.

When detected early, skin cancer, including melanoma, is highly curable. Talk to your primary care physician to see what tests might be appropriate for you to prevent or treat skin cancer. For more information, Sharp Health News created this infographic on the ABCDEs of how to check yourself for potential signs of melanoma.

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