Can melanoma skin cancer be prevented?
Not all melanomas can be prevented, but there are things you can do that might reduce your risk.
Limit your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays
The best way to lower the risk of melanoma is to practice sun safety when you are outdoors to limit your exposure to strong sunlight and other sources of UV light.
Simply staying in the shade is one of the best ways to limit being exposed to UV rays.
“Slip! Slop! Slap!®… and Wrap”
This catchphrase can remind you of some of the key steps you can take to protect yourself 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 the skin around them
Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps
Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless. This is not true. Tanning lamps give out UV rays, which are linked to skin cancer. Tanning bed use has been linked with an increased risk of melanoma, especially if it’s started before the age of 30. Most skin doctors and health groups advise against using tanning beds and sun lamps.
Protect children from the sun
Children need special attention, since they tend to spend more time outdoors and can 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 about sun safety
To find out more about how to protect yourself and your family from UV rays, see Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection.
Check for abnormal moles
Checking your skin regularly may help you spot any new or abnormal moles or other growths and show them to your doctor before they even have a chance to turn into skin cancer.
If you have many moles or abnormal moles, your doctor may want to watch them closely with regular exams and may advise you to do monthly skin self-exams. (See the section “How is melanoma skin cancer found?”). The doctor may want to remove some of them if they have certain features that suggest they might change into a melanoma.
If you find a new, unusual, or changing mole, you should have it checked by your doctor.
Last Medical Review: 05/01/2015
Last Revised: 05/18/2015