Skin Cancer Prevention & Screening

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Our skin cancer oncologists collaborate closely with our dermatologists to provide expert care in skin cancer screening and treatment.

Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin cancer is highly preventable. We recommend the following measures of prevention:

  • The best protection is a building – stay inside during the peak sunlight hours.
  • Wear protective clothing, including long pants, long sleeves and a wide-brim hat. Clothing with SPF protection is available and a rating of at least 30-50 offers the most effective coverage.
  • Wear sunscreen and protection for your eyes when in the sun. 
  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • Avoid prolonged sun and ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. 
  • Use sunscreen effectively.
  • Wear preventive gear (like gloves) when doing tasks that are demanding on your skin.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Properly clean your skin.
  • Regularly examine your skin for lesions and possible melanoma.

Know Your Risks

Your risk for skin cancer increases if you:

  • Are fair-skinned
  • Have a history of intense sun exposure, especially in childhood
  • Have more than 100 moles or large, irregular or unusual moles
  • Have close blood relatives — parents, siblings, children — with melanoma

The Steps to Skin Cancer Prevention

Follow these recommended steps to create a skin cancer prevention regimen for yourself and your family. 

Check Your Moles & Get Screened

UVA Cancer Center also offers screening programs open to the public throughout the year that allow adults of all ages to be checked for signs of skin cancer. Getting screened often is the most effective way to stay ahead of skin cancer, especially if you do develop it.

What to Watch For

Melanomas vary in appearance but here are things to look for:

  • Asymmetry: Irregular shape; one half does not match the other
  • Border: Ragged, notched, blurred or irregular in outline; spreading pigment
  • Color: Uneven color; shades of black, brown, tan, white, grey, red, pink or blue
  • Diameter: Increasing size; melanomas usually grow larger than a pencil eraser

Mole changes can indicate melanoma. Other symptoms of cancer or serious skin conditions include areas where the skin is broken down or bleeding that just won’t heal after a few weeks of good skin care with something like petroleum jelly every day are worrisome and potentially cancerous.

When to See Your Dermatologist

Get it checked if it’s:

  • Growing fast
  • Itching
  • Bleeding
  • Changing color quickly