Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. A conservative estimate is that more than 2 million skin cancer lesions are treated in the US every year (some people may have more than 1 skin cancer requiring treatment). Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer rarely lead to life-threatening problems; however, thousands of Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, every year. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 84,000 people were diagnosed with melanoma in the US in 2018, and over 8,000 people died of melanoma.
Some people may be at greater risk for developing melanoma from too much sun exposure, including those with light skin, red or blond hair, or freckling. Individuals with a family history of melanoma or numerous atypical nevi (moles) may also be at greater risk of developing melanoma.
The CDC recommends various measures to limit sun exposure, including minimizing or avoiding direct sunlight between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm (when the sun’s rays are the strongest), wearing protective clothing and a hat with a wide brim, using sunglasses that block UVA and UVB light, and using a sunscreen lotion with an SPF of 15 or higher. The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates similar guidelines for children. Many medical experts also recommend limiting or avoiding the use of tanning salons and tanning beds.