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Skin Cancer Awareness Month – “Do You Use Sun Protection”

Skin Cancer Awareness Month – “Do You Use Sun Protection”

Written by Dr. Lakshmi Venkataraman, MD
Medically Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on May 17, 2019 at 4:37 PM
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  • May is observed as skin cancer awareness month globally and aims to inform the general public about skin cancer and how to protect ourselves from skin cancer, especially melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer
  • Although melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, it accounts for majority of skin cancer deaths. Most skin cancers are related to excess ultraviolet (UV) rays exposure and can thus be easily prevented by practicing sun safety measures
  • As per estimates, over 190000 cases of melanoma will be newly diagnosed in the US in 2019. The highest incidence is in Australia and New Zealand and cases have doubled in the US in the last three decades

Globally, May is observed as skin cancer awareness month. This day aims to inform the general public about skin cancer and how to protect themselves from skin cancer, especially melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation established in 1979 is dedicated to raising public awareness on skin cancer and importance of knowing about prevention and early diagnosis of skin cancer, which is rising at alarming rates, especially in the Western world. A black colored ribbon is used to represent many cancers including skin cancer. This year is the 40th year running since the inception of the Skin Care Foundation.

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How We Can Raise Skin Cancer Awareness

  • Download skin cancer facts and figures from online and share widely on social media such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Share your story of overcoming melanoma on social media to inspire others similarly affected
  • Make a personal contribution to the cause of skin cancer awareness campaign
  • Organize an event such as a marathon, a walk or a fun event and invite your friends and family to participate and donate the proceeds to skin cancer research
  • Wear black during the month and post a selfie with the message of skin cancer awareness
  • Sell items themed in black online including T-shirts, pins, brooches or mugs and donate the profits for the skin cancer awareness campaign
  • Print and visual media should carry prominent messages about skin cancer prevention and early  diagnosis and conduct discussions by experts to inform the general public
  • Hospitals and clinics should offer free check-ups to encourage people to come forward for skin examination
  • Distribute information leaflets to public at prominent places in your community such as malls, parks or libraries
  • Local administration must provide affordable and accessible health care to everyone when and where they need it

Skin Cancer Facts and Figures

  • Skin cancer can be broadly subdivided into melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers
  • Melanoma is the most dangerous of all skin cancers but the least common
  • The two types of non-melanomatous skin cancers include squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
  • Over 5 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed annually in the US and about 190,000 melanomas are expected to be diagnosed in the US in 2019
  • Most skin cancers are related to sun exposure and tanning bed use and can be prevented with proper precautions
  • Incidence of skin cancer is highest in Caucasians and least in Hispanics, Blacks and Asians
  • Light skinned persons with blond hair and light colored eyes are more susceptible to skin damage and skin cancer
  • Incidence of skin cancer increases with age
  • Melanoma rates are higher in women compared to men until 50 years; by 65 years men have twice the risk and by 80 years thrice the risk compared to women
  • Both SCC and BCC are highly curable if detected and treated properly
  • For melanomas, the 5 year survival is 99 percent if it is diagnosed before spread to lymph nodes

Skin Cancer Prevention

  • Wear protective sunscreen when going out in the sun with SPF 30 or more
  • Wear protective clothing, sun-glasses and hat outdoors in the sun
  • Avoid indoor tanning beds
  • See a dermatologist (skin specialist) without delay if you notice any new abnormal spot or mole anywhere on your skin or changes in pre-existing moles such as bleeding, sudden increase in size, or increased pigmentation


Skin cancer awareness month hopes to increase public awareness about skin cancer and how to prevent skin cancer. Most skin cancers are related to ultraviolet rays exposure and can thus be easily prevented by taking proper precautions.

References :
  1. Skin Cancer: Facts and Statistics - (https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts)
  2. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month - (https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/programs/skin-cancer-awareness-month)
  3. Skin Cancer Awareness Month - (https://www.nfcr.org/blog/skin-cancer-awareness-month/)
  4. Skin cancer - (https://www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/skin-cancer)

Source: Medindia

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