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American Cancer Society Skin Cancer Prevention Activities

Skin cancer is the most common cancer. About 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed each year. (These are found in about 3.3 million Americans; some people have more than one.) Melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, will account for about 76,380 cases of skin cancer in 2016.

Though the statistics are sobering, skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. The American Cancer Society encourages people to take steps to help lower their risk of this disease.

Slip! Slop! Slap!® and Wrap

The American Cancer Society’s awareness campaign for skin cancer prevention promotes the slogan “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap.” This catch phrase reminds people of the 4 key ways they can protect themselves and their children from UV radiation:

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

The Society promotes this message through media and education activities.

The Society is also a core member of the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, a collaborative group of more than 45 organizations dedicated to skin cancer prevention in the United States. This collaboration supports the Society’s nationwide objective of improving behaviors that can prevent skin cancer, and being a trusted, unbiased source of cancer information.

Don’t Fry Day

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as Don’t Fry Day, an annual effort to raise sun safety awareness and remind everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors. The American Cancer Society supports this initiative.

Key messages about Don’t Fry Day include things like:

  • The Friday before Memorial Day is Don’t Fry Day. This year, go beyond sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Skin cancer is on the rise in the United States.
  • There are many ways to protect your skin from harmful UV radiation, and you need more than 1 step for full protection. People should follow as many of these tips as possible: seek shade when you can; wear protective clothing; generously apply sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher with broad spectrum protection); use extra caution when near water, snow, and sand; get Vitamin D safely; and do not let your skin tan or burn.
  • Use the UV Index forecast to know your UV exposure risk. (A higher UV Index on a scale from 1 to 11+ means more skin damaging UV radiation is reaching the earth.)
  • The best way to detect skin cancer early is to examine your skin regularly and recognize changes in moles and skin growths.

Sun safety

Along with promoting Don’t Fry Day, the Society recommends these sun safe behaviors for all people every day:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend in direct sun, especially when the sun’s rays are the strongest, generally from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing when you’re out in the sun, including long sleeves; sunglasses; and a hat that shades your face, neck, and ears.
  • Wear sunscreen with broad spectrum protection and an SPF of 30 or higher on all skin that isn’t covered.
  • Protect your skin even on cool or cloudy days.

The American Cancer Society also promotes early detection of skin cancer in adults through regular skin self-exams. Examination for skin cancer may be part of periodic health exams.

Research into skin cancer prevention

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to working with policy makers to enact laws and policies that will advance the fight against cancer. Major focus areas include:

  • Increased money for cancer research, prevention, early detection, and treatment
  • Increased access to quality care, screening, and prevention services
  • Reduced health disparities among the medically underserved

The Society’s extramural grants program is one of the largest sources of private, not-for-profit cancer research funds in the United States. Currently, more than 61 grants are funded for skin/melanoma cancer research totaling over $21 million.

The American Cancer Society Intramural Research Department evaluates trends in incidence, mortality, risk factors, and patient care and provides descriptive cancer statistics in a number of publications. The Society’s internal research team is also analyzing data on an ongoing basis from the Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II), which the Society began in 1982, to investigate links between lifestyle and skin cancer.

The bottom line

Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer in the US, and rates have been increasing from year to year. This highlights the need to promote skin cancer prevention education, and work for policies and laws that help protect people and get everyone the screening and treatment they need.

It’s not possible or practical to avoid sunlight completely, and it would be unwise to reduce your level of activity to avoid the outdoors – we know physical activity is important for good health. But too much sunlight can be harmful. The American Cancer Society will continue to educate and encourage people to take steps to be safe in the sun.

To learn more

We have a lot more information that you might find helpful. Visit our Skin Cancer page to learn more about skin cancer, find out how to protect yourself and your loved ones from skin cancer, and get tips on how to find skin cancer as early as possible.

Explore www.cancer.org or call our National Cancer Information Center toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345. We’re here to help you any time, day or night.


Last Medical Review: 02/12/2016
Last Revised: 02/12/2016