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Guest Columnist Author: Dr. Susan Weinkle, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

How to Lower Your Risk of Skin Cancer

By Dr. Susan Weinkle, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
May 9, 2012 - 4:19:08 PM

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( - You’ve heard it many times before: “Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!” But, is there an easier way to keep skin cancer prevention top of mind all year round?

Many people might be surprised to learn that sun damage is cumulative, and sun exposure in your youth may lead to aging and skin cancer later on. To prevent sun damage, you should develop a routine of wearing and reapplying sunscreen.

“By starting healthy sun habits early, you can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer,” says Dr. Susan Weinkle, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS). “While skin cancer is almost 100 percent curable if caught early, men, women and healthcare providers need to take steps together to prevent the disease.”

So, what are some steps you can take on a daily basis to lower your risk of skin cancer this year? Dr. Weinkle and the ASDS suggest the following:

Be sure to wear sunscreen: No matter what your skin type or how your body reacts to the sun, you should always wear sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply about one ounce (the size of a shot glass) of sunscreen to cover your entire body and reapply every two to three hours spent outdoors. Research shows that many people put on about half of the amount of sunscreen they need, so be sure to lather it on. Also, don’t forget your lips — use lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Take more than a break: Avoid sun exposure during peak hours of intensity from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you must be outside, apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before heading out and reapply throughout the day.

Wear sun protective clothing: Wearing a hat with a full, wide brim can help protect areas often exposed to the sun, such as the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. Apply sunscreen under a T-shirt, or wear more protective clothing.

Protect your family: Teach children life-long skin protection habits at a young age, even if you think they aren’t listening. Set a good example by putting on sunscreen together.

In addition, Dr. Weinkle and the ASDS offer the following tips for long-term skin cancer detection and prevention:

Monitor your skin: If any unusual spots appear on your skin, get them checked out immediately. If something looks funny or different, see a dermatologic surgeon.

See the right doctor: When something doesn’t look right, schedule an appointment with a dermatologic surgeon, who can use a number of noninvasive tools to determine if the spot is cancerous. You can then work together to find the right treatment; many newer treatments are painless and do not cause scarring. To find a dermatologic surgeon, visit

Get help from a friend: The best way to detect skin cancer, especially on hard-to-see places like the back, is to have your spouse, partner or a friend check your skin on a regular basis. Be sure to check your skin yourself too.

So, pack that sunscreen wherever you go and reapply. And be sure to schedule an appointment with your dermatologic surgeon this year. Visit for more information on how to best detect and prevent skin cancer and to find a free skin cancer screening in your area.

About the ASDS
The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) is the largest specialty organization exclusively representing dermatologic surgeons who have unique training and experience to treat the health, function and beauty of your skin. ASDS members are pioneers in the field. Many are involved in the clinical studies that bring treatments to revitalize skin and fill and diminish wrinkles to the forefront. Their work has helped create and enhance many of the devices that remove blemishes, hair and fat, and tighten skin. Dermatologic surgeons are also experts in skin cancer prevention, detection and treatment. As the incidence of skin cancer rises, dermatologic surgeons are committed to taking steps to minimize the life-threatening effects of this disease. For more information, visit


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