Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cell Overview

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can basal and squamous cell skin cancer be prevented?

Not all basal and squamous cell skin cancers can be prevented. But there are things you can do that could help reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Limit your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays

The best way to lower the risk of skin cancer is to practice sun safety when you are outdoors to limit your exposure to UV rays.

Seek shade

Simply staying in the shade is one of the best ways to limit your UV exposure.

“Slip! Slop! Slap! ® … and Wrap”

This catchphrase that can help remind you of some of the key steps you can take to protect yourself and those you love from UV rays. If you are going to be in the sun:

  • Slip on a shirt
  • Slop on sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around them

Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps

Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless. This is not true. These also give off UV rays and can increase the risk of skin cancer. Most skin doctors and health groups advise against using tanning beds and sun lamps.

Protect children from the sun

Be especially careful about sun protection for children. Children tend to spend more time outdoors, and they burn more easily. Parents and other caregivers should protect children from excess sun exposure by using the steps above. Children need to be taught about the dangers of too much sun exposure as they become more independent.

To learn more…

To find out more about how to protect yourself and your family from UV rays, see Skin Cancer: Prevention and Early Detection.

Avoid harmful chemicals

Certain chemicals, such as arsenic, can increase a person’s risk of skin cancer. People can be exposed to arsenic from well water in some areas, pesticides and herbicides, some medicines, and in some imported herbal remedies. Certain jobs, such as mining and smelting, can also expose workers to arsenic.

Check your skin regularly

Checking your skin regularly may help you spot any new growths or abnormal areas and show them to your doctor before they even have a chance to turn into skin cancer. To learn more, see the section “How are basal and squamous cell skin cancers found?”


Last Medical Review: 05/06/2015
Last Revised: 05/11/2015