Sunburn and Skin Cancer
Sunburn and Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is often or usually caused by years of too much sun exposure. More than 90% of all skin cancers are found on body parts that get the most sun most of the time. The face, neck, ears, hands, and arms are common body parts that get skin cancer.
Skin cancer can often be prevented by avoiding overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays (UV rays). UV rays from artificial sources, such as tanning beds or sunlamps, are just as dangerous as those from the sun.
The ABCDE system is a guide to detect signs of skin cancer in moles or growths on the skin.
- Asymmetry. One half doesn't match the other half.
- Border irregularity. The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
- Colour. The pigmentation is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue add to the mottled appearance. Changes in colour distribution, especially the spread of colour from the edge of a mole into the surrounding skin, also are an early sign of melanoma.
- Diameter. The mole or skin growth is larger than 6 mm (0.2 in.), or about the size of a pencil eraser. Any growth of a mole should be of concern.
- Evolution. There is a change in the size, shape, symptoms (such as itching or tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or colour of a mole.
People with skin types that burn easily and do not tan are at highest risk for skin cancers. Anyone who has had severe sunburns or many sunburns is at high risk for skin cancers.
The closer a person lives to the equator, the greater the cancer risk from sun exposure. The risk for skin cancer also increases if you are exposed to intense sun year after year over your lifetime.
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as ofOctober 14, 2013
Current as of: October 14, 2013
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.