How to Reduce Your Skin Cancer Risk, Today

Not only is skin cancer the most common cancer here in Canada, it’s also one of the most preventable types.

There are three forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. The first two are grouped together as non-melanoma skin cancers.

(You can learn the signs of early melanoma here.) 

The causes of skin cancer include overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and/or indoor tanning beds.

Although overall cancer rates and death rates have been declining, there is still an increase in skin cancer rates and death rates, despite all we’ve learned about skin cancer and sun safety. 

While you cannot reverse sun damage you have already sustained, you can reduce your skin cancer risk by adding these sun safety practices to your day-to-day life.

  • Wear SPF 30 daily – even in the winter and on cool or foggy days. Look for a broad-spectrum (UVA & UVB) coverage, and remember: the SPF in your makeup isn’t enough!
    • You can purchase sunscreen made specifically for use on your face if you're worried about greasy or heavy formulas.
  • Reapply your sunscreen every two hours if you're going to be outdoors - more if you're sweating a lot or swimming! 
  • Avoid prolonged sun exposure.
  • Avoid the use of indoor tanning beds.
  • Complete a full-body self-examination once a month to check for new growths or changes to any existing moles.
  • Stay out of the sun during peak hours, generally, 10 am to 4 pm.
    • If you must be outside, try to stay in the shadows, use an umbrella to block the sunshine, and complement your SPF use by wearing lightweight, long-sleeved clothing and a hat to cover up.
  • Don’t forget your eyes! Wear 100% UV-blocking glasses that are close-fitting to keep your corneas and delicate eye-area skin safe.

Of course, staying safe in the sun includes more than just sunscreen. Be sure to stay well hydrated, too!