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Protecting skin from the sun is the best way to prevent skin cancer. It is especially important for childhood cancer survivors.
Sun exposure is the major environmental risk factor for skin cancers, both melanoma and non-melanoma. Sunlight, as well as indoor tanning equipment, contains ultraviolet (UV) rays. When exposed to UV rays, skin becomes susceptible to skin cancer. Many health organizations, including the World Health Organization, American Cancer Society, American Academy of Dermatology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have issued guidelines advocating sun protection measures.
Sunscreen should be re-applied every 2 hours, or after working, swimming, playing or exercising outdoors because water and perspiration can remove sunscreen. Zinc oxide can provide extra protection on the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears, and on the shoulders.
Staying Safe in the Sun as a Cancer Survivor
Surgery and radiation can cause certain parts of your body to be sensitive to the sun. Chemotherapy can make your entire body sensitive to UV rays.
While people should always take precautions, it is especially important when the UV Index predicts levels of moderate or higher. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has local UV index forecasts on its website. They can be found by entering your ZIP code at epa.gov or using the mobile app. The UV index is also included in many local weather forecasts.
Self-tanning lotions and salon spray tans are healthier options for those who want the appearance of tanned skin.
Sun exposure is needed to make Vitamin D in the skin. Since lack of sunlight may lead to Vitamin D deficiency, survivors may need to take a Vitamin D supplement. Survivors should check with their health care provider about Vitamin D supplements.
Reviewed: June 2018