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Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer

This summer, the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center encourages you to take steps to prevent skin cancer.

To protect yourself and your family against the sun’s harmful effects:

  • Avoid sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of at least 15.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally and reapply frequently.
  • Wear protective hats and clothing.

There is no such thing as a safe tan – avoid sunlamps and tanning booths.

Skin Cancer Screening & Early Detection

  • As part of a routine cancer-related checkup, your health care professional should check your skin carefully and discuss any concerns you may have.
  • It’s also important to check your own skin, preferably once a month. Learn the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so that you’ll notice any changes. Any trouble spots should be seen by a doctor.

For melanoma, the most serious form, the "ABCD" rule is an easy guide:

  • A is for ASYMMETRY: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B is for BORDER: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for COLOR: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of red, white, or blue.
  • D is for DIAMETER: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about the size of a pencil eraser) or is growing larger.

Other important signs of melanoma include changes in size, shape, or color of a mole or the appearance of a new spot. Some melanomas do not fit the ABCD rule described above, so it is particularly important for you to notice changes in skin markings or new spots on your skin.

Other skin cancer resources: