What you can do to prevent skin cancer

Man Applying Sunscreen

Sunny days and warmer temps call for picnics, hiking, tanning and more. However, if you’re not protecting yourself, increased sun exposure can raise your risk of developing skin cancer. 

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It usually develops on skin exposed to the sun but may occur on areas that are not. The good news is, it’s preventable.¹ To help you prevent skin cancer, CenterWell Pharmacy™ will explain the different types of skin cancer, how to protect your skin and more. 

Risks of skin cancer

Anyone is at risk of getting skin cancer. However, some people are at higher risk than others, such as those who have:²

∙ Fair skin

∙ A history of sunburns

∙ Moles

∙ A weak immune system

∙ A family history of skin cancer

∙ Spent too much time in the sun

If you’re concerned, speak with your healthcare provider about your risk of getting skin cancer. 

Skin cancer types

Skin cancer occurs when the DNA in skin cells is mutated by damage from the sun or other risk factors.³ If you have skin cancer, it’s important to know which type you have because it may affect how your healthcare provider treats you. 

The 3 common types of skin cancer are:

Basal: This is the most common type of skin cancer because it develops on areas most exposed to the sun, including the face, head and neck.⁴ It may look flat, firm, or scar-like. Or it may look like raised reddish patches or small, pink, shiny bumps, which may have blue, brown or black areas.⁵

Squamous cell: This is another common type of skin cancer, which also develops on sun-exposed areas.⁶ It may appear as rough or scaly red patches, raised growths or lumps, open sores or wart-like growths.⁷

Melanoma: This type of skin cancer is less common than others but is more dangerous. It can spread to other parts of the body if not treated early.⁸ Melanoma shows up on the skin as unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings or changes in the skin.⁹ 

Speak with your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any skin irregularities.

Protecting your skin

Here are some easy steps to protect yourself and lower your risk of skin cancer:¹⁰

  1. Avoid the sun during the middle of the day. 
  2. Wear sunscreen every day, all year-round. We recommend wearing 30 SPF, even on cloudy days.  
  3. Wear protective clothing. Dark clothing that covers your arms and legs and a broad-brimmed hat can be helpful. We also recommend wearing sunglasses that protect against UV rays. 
  4. Avoid tanning beds. The lights used emit UV rays that can increase your risk of skin cancer.
  5. Talk to your pharmacist if you take sun-sensitizing medications. 

Regularly look at your skin, especially if you’re at high risk for developing skin cancer.

Getting help

If you have questions or concerns about your risk of skin cancer, the best person to speak with is your healthcare provider. They can tell you what symptoms to look for and run tests to determine if you have skin cancer. Also, pharmacists at CenterWell Pharmacy are available to provide tips on how to take your medications safely. You can reach our pharmacists by calling 800-379-0092 (TTY: 711), Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Eastern time.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you.


  1. “Skin cancer,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed April 25, 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/skin-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20377605
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  3. “Skin cancer.”
  4. “What Are Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers?” American Cancer Society, last accessed April 25, 2022, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/basal-and-squamous-cell-skin-cancer/about/what-is-basal-and-squamous-cell.html
  5. “Signs and Symptoms of Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers,” American Cancer Society, last accessed April 25, 2022, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/basal-and-squamous-cell-skin-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html
  6. “What Are Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers?”
  7. “Signs and Symptoms of Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers.”
  8. “What is Melanoma Skin Cancer,” American Cancer Society, last accessed April 25, 2022, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/about/what-is-melanoma.html
  9. “Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer,” American Cancer Society, last accessed April 25, 2022, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html
  10. “Skin cancer.”

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