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A risk factor is something that increases your chance of developing melanoma. Some risk factors such as your age or family history cannot be modified, but others can. For example, melanoma is strongly linked with exposure to UV radiation, like sunlight. Protecting your skin from sun exposure or tanning beds is important to decreasing the risk of melanoma.

Limit or Avoid Ultravoilet Radiation Exposure

To help protect your skin from UV radiation:

  • Avoid spending too much time in the sun.
  • Decrease your sun exposure when outside by:
    • Avoiding sun exposure during peak times, usually between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
    • Protect your skin from the sun with clothing. Wear a shirt, sunglasses, and a hat with a broad brim.
    • Use broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more on skin that will be exposed to the sun.
    • Use a protective lip balm.
  • Avoid using sun lamps or tanning booths.

Check Your Skin

Check your skin regularly and have someone help you check areas you cannot see, such as your back, buttocks, scalp, underneath the breasts of women, and the backs of the legs. Look at the soles of your feet, palms of your hands, all your nails, and between your fingers and toes. If you notice any suspicious moles, contact your doctor right away.

Catching changes early may prevent the cancer from developing. Early stage melanoma is easier to treat.

Revision Information

  • Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115302/Melanoma. Updated August 26, 2016. Accessed October 20, 2016.

  • Melanoma. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/cancers-of-the-skin/melanoma. Updated July 2015. Accessed October 20, 2016.

  • Melanoma skin cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003120-pdf.pdf. Accessed October 20, 2016.

  • Sun protection. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection. Accessed October 20, 2016.