Men and Skin Cancer

Comprehensive Cancer Centers understands that for many men being sun smart and using sunscreen isn’t something that is top of mind. NIH statistics show that women are three times more likely than men to apply sunscreen to protect their skin.  It’s also estimated that one-third of all adults use sunscreen regularly and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

For men, these numbers stack up to an increased need to better protect themselves from the sun to reduce risks of cancer. The good news is that making changes to reduce risks for men can be done simply starting to use sunscreen and use it more regularly, as well as adding in easy precautions to routines while out in the sun.

A good way for men to gain an appreciation for sun safety is by learning the science behind the dangers of the sun. When the sun is shining, either in a blue sky or behind a blanket of clouds, two kinds of rays UVA and UVB are coming through and hitting the skin. UVB causes sunburns and is responsible for non-melanoma cancers. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, causing cells called melanocytes to begin producing melanin. Even if you’re avoided a sunburn, you still may have had damage to your skin occur from these UVA rays.

Having skin damaged, but not immediately visible, can give men a false sense of security about being outside without sunscreen or proper sun coverage. The deceptive nature of UVA rays is why oncologists at Comprehensive Cancer Centers recommend broad-spectrum sunscreen that covers both UVA and UVB rays

The American Academy of Dermatology concurs with the Comprehensive team and urges men to use sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection with SPF 30 or higher, and sunscreen that offers water resistance. Sunscreen with these benefits protects skin from sunburn, early skin aging and skin cancer.

As sunscreen alone cannot fully protect you, Comprehensive recommends men take the following steps to protect your skin and find skin cancer early:

  • Find Shade – Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Wear The Right Gear – Dress to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.
  • Be Wary of Water – Use extra caution near water, snow, and even sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
  • Eat Right – Get vitamin D in your system through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.
  • No Fake Tans – Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from tanning beds can cause skin cancer and age your skin prematurely with wrinkling.
  • Annual Skin Checkups – Set up annual full body sun-screenings. If you notice anything changing, itching, or bleeding on your skin before your annual screening, see a board-certified dermatologist immediately. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early.
  • Talk To Your Friends – The next time you’re on the golf course, make sure to share your sunscreen with friends, while letting them know some of what you’ve learned about sun safety. If you work outdoors, be sure to let your friends know the benefits of wearing gear that offers protection from the sun’s rays.  And always urge friends to take charge of their health with regular visits to your primary care physician and annual full-body skin examinations.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for men’s health including skin and other cancers, pulmonary disease, sleep disorders, along with world-class clinical research and immunotherapy.  To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.


The content in this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.