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Melanoma Prevention

Preventing Melanoma by Reducing UV Radiation

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and from sunlamps and tanning booths damages the skin and can lead to melanoma and other types of skin cancer. Everyone, especially those who have dysplastic nevi or other risk factors, should try to reduce the risk of developing melanoma by protecting the skin from UV radiation.
 

Suggestions for Melanoma Prevention

Doctors recommend that people take steps to help prevent and reduce the risk of melanoma caused by UV radiation. Recommendations for preventing melanoma include:
 
  • Avoid exposure to the midday sun (from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) whenever possible. When your shadow is shorter than you are, remember to protect yourself from the sun.
 
  • If you must be outside, wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat with a wide brim.
 
  • Protect yourself from UV radiation that can penetrate light clothing, windshields, and windows.
 
  • Protect yourself from UV radiation reflected by sand, water, snow, and ice.
 
  • Help protect your skin by using a lotion, cream, or gel that contains sunscreen. Many doctors believe sunscreens may help prevent melanoma, especially sunscreens that reflect, absorb, and/or scatter both types of ultraviolet radiation. These sunscreen products will be labeled with "broad-spectrum coverage."
Sunscreens are rated in strength according to a sun protection factor (SPF). The higher the SPF, the more sunburn protection is provided. Sunscreens with an SPF value of 2 to 11 provide minimal protection against sunburns. Those with an SPF of 12 to 29 provide moderate protection. Those with an SPF of 30 or higher provide the most protection against sunburn.
  • Wear sunglasses that have UV-absorbing lenses. The label should specify that the lenses block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. Sunglasses can protect both the eyes and the skin around the eyes.
 
  • People whose skin tans poorly or who have a large number of abnormal moles may have an increased risk of developing melanoma. These people in particular may benefit by engaging in melanoma prevention measures.
 
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