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Skin Cancer Prevention and Screening

Skin Cancer Screening

Screening tests may be able to find certain types of cancer if a person is at risk but does not have symptoms. Early detection of skin cancer greatly increases the odds of successful treatment.
Read more about MD Anderson’s skin cancer screening guidelines.

Skin Cancer Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting skin cancer is a risk factor.

Sun damage is the main risk factor for skin cancer. Artificial sunlight from tanning beds causes the same risk for skin cancer as natural sunlight. There is no such thing as a safe tan.

Other risk factors for skin cancer include:

  • Age: The longer you are exposed to the sun over time, the higher your risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Fair complexion, blond or red hair, freckles, blue eyes and/or a tendency to sunburn
  • Previous skin cancer
  • Living in a sunny climate
  • Working around coal tar, arsenic compounds, creosote, pitch and paraffin oil
  • Previous skin injuries, such as a major scar or burn
  • Actinic keratosis, a precancerous condition of thick, scaly patches of skin

Not everyone with risk factors gets skin cancer. However, if you have risk factors, it’s a good idea to discuss them with your health care provider.

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Most advanced skin cancer treatments, including least-invasive surgery
  • Most accurate diagnostic technology and methods
  • One of largest skin cancer programs in the nation
  • Range of clinical trials for skin cancer

Why Choose MD Anderson?

Treatment at MD Anderson

Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are treated in our:

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Skin Cancer Prevention

You can lower your risk of getting skin cancer by making certain choices.

  • Avoid sunburn
  • Limit sun exposure
  • Do not use tanning beds or other artificial sunlight sources
  • Wear a sunscreen rated at least SPF 30, a broad-brimmed hat and a long-sleeved shirt when you’re outside
  • Wear sunglasses when you are outside
  • Stay inside in the sun’s peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Protect your children. Babies under 6 months old should be completely shielded from direct sun exposure. Apply sunscreen to infants over 6 months old, and teach older children to make applying sunscreen a regular habit before they go outside.
  • Examine your skin monthly. Have any suspicious moles checked by a health care practitioner.
  • If you are at risk, have your skin examined at least once each year by a dermatologist.

Research shows that many cancers can be prevented if people applied everything known about cancer prevention to their lives. Visit the Prevention section of our website to find out steps you can take to avoid cancer.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center