Skin Cancer Prevention

Approximately one in five people will develop skin cancer. This common disease can be deadly, but when detected early, it has a 98 percent cure rate. Most skin cancers are cured by simply removing the cancerous tissue if it is discovered and treated early.

Skin Cancer—What You Need to Know

Don’t let skin cancer sneak up on you. Learn about your risks and what you can do to keep your skin cancer-free.

What Causes Skin Cancer?

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer, but it can also be the result of genetics or radiation treatments. One type of skin cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, is caused by a virus.

Who’s at Risk?

People with the following conditions or characteristics tend to have the highest risk of developing skin cancer:

  • Fair skin
  • Frequent exposure to the sun
  • History of sunburn and skin cancer
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Many moles
  • Over age 40
  • Large dark-colored birthmark known as congenital melanocytic nevus
  • Pre-cancerous skin lesions, such as actinic keratosis
  • HIV-positive—a risk for Kaposi's sarcoma
  • Radiation therapy

How Can I Avoid Skin Cancer?

  • Avoid the sun and UV rays, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses when outdoors.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreens that block UVA and UVB rays and reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days.
  • Check your skin for changes and get screened regularly by your primary care physician or a dermatologist.

How Do I Recognize Skin Cancer?

The only way to know for sure if a mole or spot on your skin is cancer is to have your doctor look at it.

Signs of skin cancer include:

  • Shiny bump that is pearly or translucent
  • Flat, flesh-colored lesion appearing anywhere on the body
  • Hard, red nodule on face, lips, ears, neck, hands, arms
  • Flat lesion with scaly surface
  • Change in color, size, shape or texture of a mole
  • Skin lesion with irregular borders
  • Growth of an existing skin lesion
  • Large brown spot with darker speckles
  • Hard, dome-shaped bumps anywhere on your body

Get screened regularly by your primary care physician or a dermatologist and contact your doctor promptly if you notice any of these signs.

Learn more about skin cancer, including types and treatment options, at our online Health Encyclopedia.

Find a Dermatologist

Trust the experienced dermatologists at North Kansas City Hospital to care for your skin and related disorders.

ABCDEs of Skin Cancer

ABCDEs of Skin Cancer

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  • Skin Cancer Prevention