May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

With more than 5 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year, skin cancer is America’s most common cancer. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers. To raise awareness, the month of May has been designated as Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Sharing facts about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure and encouraging people to check their skin for warning signs can and will save lives.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), it’s estimated that more than 200,340 melanomas will be diagnosed in 2024, and about 8,290 people will die of melanoma.

AAD encourages everyone to begin a lifelong habit of checking their skin by performing skin self-exams. Here’s why:

  • Caught early, melanoma is highly treatable.
  • Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, including skin that’s had plenty of sun exposure and skin that’s usually protected from the sun.
  • Melanoma can develop under or around a fingernail or toenail.
  • You can find melanoma early by examining your skin for the ABCDEs of melanoma and checking your nails.
  • Dermatologists encourage everyone to check their skin for signs of skin cancer. People of all skin tones develop skin cancer. By checking your skin, you can find signs early.

Sun protection can reduce your skin cancer risk

Protecting your skin from the sun plays a key role in preventing skin cancer. However, a 2024 AAD survey found that more than 1 in 3 Americans (36%) said they had a sunburn in 2023. This is a significant increase over 2022.

The 2024 survey also revealed that Gen Z adults were less likely than adults in other generations to know key facts that can help them protect their skin from the sun. Here are key facts to know:

  • When you’re outdoors, protect your skin by seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing, and applying sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Sun protection is important every day of the year. You can get sunburned on a cloudy day and during the winter.
  • You need to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating. It’s a myth that higher SPF sunscreens can be applied less frequently.

If you still have questions about how to find skin cancer early or reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, a board-certified dermatologist can help.