American Cancer Society // Infographics // 2014

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types. More than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States. That’s more than all other cancers combined. Skin cancer rates have been on the rise over the past few decades. The good news is that you can do a lot to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer.

Skin Cancer is the Most Common of All Cancer Types

New Cancer Cases in the U.S. this Year

  • Skin Cancer (non-melanoma): 3,500,000
  • Prostate Cancer: 233,000
  • Breast Cancer: 235,030
  • Lung Cancer: 224,210
  • Colorectal Cancer: 136,830

There are 3.5 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed in 2.2 million people with some patients having more than one diagnosis.

Skin cancer cases don’t just outweigh prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancers – they outweigh all cancers combined!  

Most Skin Cancers are Caused by the Sun’s UVA and UVB Ultraviolet (UV) Rays

UVA rays pierce the skin’s surface and travel through the epidermis and deep into the dermis, which can cause:

  • Dark patches
  • Wrinkles
  • Loose skin
  • Premature aging
  • DNA damage

UVB rays pierce the skin’s surface and travel into the epidermis, which can cause:

  • Eye problems
  • Sunburns
  • DNA damage

Both UVA and UVB rays cause DNA damage, which greatly increases skin cancer risk.

Anyone Can Get Skin Cancer

Be extra careful if you:

  • Have natural blonde or red hair
  • Have freckles
  • Are fair skinned
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Have had skin cancer before
  • Live in or travel to hot climates or high altitudes
  • Take medications that make you sensitive to light
  • Have had a lot of sunburns and burn before tanning
  • Have a condition that lowers your immune system
  • Have a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma
  • Have a lot of moles, or large or irregularly shaped moles (see

Protecting Yourself is Vital

One hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 is the same as two minutes with no protection.

Sunscreen: What to Look For

  • Broad Spectrum – protects against both UVA and UVB rays
  • SPF 30…at least!
  • Water Resistant – 40 minutes of total protection
  • Expiration Date – Sunscreen can expire, so check the date

Sunscreen: How and Where to Apply

  • Be generous! One ounce (about a palmful) should be used to cover the arms, legs, neck and face.
  • Don’t forget your ears, hands, feet and underarms.
  • Reapply at least every two hours. Apply more often if you’re in and out of water or sweating.

Other Ways to Protect Yourself

In addition to sunscreen, don’t forget to:

  • Seek shade, especially from 10am – 4pm
  • Cover up with clothing
  • Ditch tanning beds or lamps
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Wear a hat
  • Cover up the kiddies, too! 


When you support the American Cancer Society, you join millions of others who are committed to the fight to end cancer. You help save lives in your community and around the world. Thank you for supporting these lifesaving efforts that get us closer to a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

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The Friday before Memorial Day is Don’t Fry Day™.

Source for Sunscreen Labeling Information:
FDA Consumer Health Information – FDA Sheds Light on Sunscreens 

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Together with our millions of supporters, the American Cancer Society (ACS) saves lives and creates a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back.

© 2014 American Cancer Society, Inc. All rights reserved. The American Cancer Society is a qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.