May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Protect Your Skin from the Most Common Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide, with approximately 9,500 people diagnosed each day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.[0] May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and the first Monday of the month is Melanoma Monday, a day to raise awareness about the most serious form of skin cancer and ways to prevent it.[1]

The main cause of melanoma is exposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays of the sun, but other factors such as fair skin tone, freckles, and light hair also contribute to a melanoma skin diagnosis.[2] Although the risk of melanoma rises with age, individuals of all skin types and ages can still be affected. According to Dr. Maral Kibarian Skelsey, dermatologist and director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington, skin cancer is on the rise, with about 200,000 cases of melanoma each year.

To lower the risk for melanoma, it is important to protect your skin from UV rays by wearing broad-brimmed hats, tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs, and sunglasses to protect your eyes. It is also crucial to use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher on exposed areas of skin and to reapply at least every two hours.[3] If you’re swimming or sweating, use water- and sweat-resistant sunscreen.[4] Additionally, it is recommended to avoid being outside during long periods of time, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the UV rays are strongest.[5]

If you notice any changes in your skin, such as asymmetrical moles with irregular borders or uneven colors, get them checked by a dermatologist.[6] Early detection is key, as skin cancer is almost always curable when caught early.[7] Regular skin screenings are recommended, especially for those with a personal or family history of skin cancer.[8]

While non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin, melanoma is a more rare and serious type of skin cancer that spreads faster throughout the body.[9] The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change to an existing mole, often on body parts exposed to the sun such as the face, back, arms, and legs.[9] If melanoma is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 99%, but if it has spread beyond the skin, the survival rate drops precipitously to close to 27%.[10]

In addition to limiting exposure to UV radiation, there are other ways to reduce the risk of skin cancer.[8] Using sunscreen, limiting time spent in the sun, and dressing sensibly in the sun can protect you from UV rays. Seeking shade when appropriate, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest, can also help reduce the risk of skin cancer.[11]

0. “Who is most at risk for melanoma?” TODAY, 1 May. 2023,

1. “What to know about melanoma as summer approaches” WLS-TV, 1 May. 2023,

2. “Signs and symptoms of skin cancer everyone needs to be on the lookout for” Liverpool Echo, 3 May. 2023,

3. “Melanoma Monday: Tips to prevent the deadliest form of skin cancer” CBS News, 1 May. 2023,

4. “Mayo Clinic Minute: Men need to take melanoma seriously” Anchorage Daily News, 24 Apr. 2023,

5. “Your Health, Your Community | News |” Brunswicktimes Gazette, 2 May. 2023,

6. “Dangers of Melanoma and How to Prevent it” Cleveland Clinic Newsroom, 28 Apr. 2023,

7. “These Are The Five Melanoma Signs Everyone Needs To Know” HuffPost UK, 2 May. 2023,

8. “Skin cancer signs, risks factors, screening guidelines: What to know” USA TODAY, 29 Apr. 2023,

9. “The early signs of skin cancer and how to spot them” Newshub, 2 May. 2023,

10. “Dermatologist shares warning signs of skin cancer ahead of summer”, 1 May. 2023,

11. “Skin Cancer Awareness Month: 5 things a skin cancer surgeon wants you to know about sun protection” The Independent, 1 May. 2023,

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