7 traits that may increase skin cancer risk

Know the risks for skin cancer.

As we head into summer, it’s important to remind ourselves about sun safety and detecting skin cancer early. Melanoma is the third most common skin cancer in the United States, and the most deadly. The number of new melanoma cases has doubled in the past three decades, according to the Centers 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 am and 4 pm 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:


A lighter natural skin color


Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun


Blue or green eyes


Blond or red hair


Certain types and a large number of moles


A family history of skin cancer


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 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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