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Skin Cancer and Moles

The most common type of cancer is skin cancer. Each year in the United States, around 1 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed. Many cases are non-life-threatening and can be treated if detected early. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The least common but most deadly form of skin cancer is melanoma. Approximately 8,000 deaths occur each year due to melanoma.

Lighter-skinned individuals are at the highest risk for developing skin cancer. Chronic sun exposure, sunburns, and occupations that require working outside increase the risk of skin cancer. Darker-skinned individuals are also at risk and need to take precautions to prevent sun damage and overexposure to harmful UV rays. 


Understanding the Risks

The risk of getting skin cancer can be reduced through minimal effort and slight changes in lifestyle. The following are some expert-recommended guidelines:

  • Stay out of the sun during peak hours (10 AM to 3 PM).
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15.
  • Avoid tanning and tanning beds.
  • Be extra cautious near water, sand, and snow, which reflect the sun's rays.
  • Examine your skin for new or evolving moles at least once every 3 months.

Be aware that some uncontrollable factors may increase your chances of skin cancer. Men are more likely to have basal cell and squamous cell cancers than women. Age also plays a part in skin cancer. Older skin has had more time to become damaged by the sun’s rays than younger skin. People who have had skin cancer previously are also more likely to develop skin cancer again.

Basal cell carcinoma 

Basal Cell

Squamous cell carcinoma 

Squamous Cell



Actinic Keratosis 

Actinic Keratosis

Free Skin Cancer Resources

Learn how to identify melanoma, lower your skin cancer risk, and recognize the different types of skin cancer with this poster series.

The ABCDES of Melanoma

Skin Cancer: Know the Facts & Lower Your Risk
A Guide to Recognizing Skin Cancer




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