Teen & Young Adult Prevention
A little prevention goes a long way – for life’s big moments and every day!
Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young people.1
According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that 115,320 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with melanoma this year and over 11,000 people will die from it.2 However, melanoma of the skin is largely avoidable with proper PREVENTION and EARLY DETECTION efforts including:
Hover over the items below for more information.
Between the hours of 10 am – 2 pm, UV light is the strongest and your chance of skin cancer and skin aging increases significantly.3
It’s important to either seek shade or avoid staying outside for longer periods during these times. Checking the UV index every morning on your phone is also an easy way to gauge when it’s safe to be outside. Anything above level 2 warrants caution!
Avoid Tanning and Sunburns Entirely
There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan. Just ONE indoor tanning session increases your chance of skin cancer by 75%.6 Skin damage is cumulative, for every tan, risk of melanoma increases substantially.3
Avoid intentional tanning and instead get that g-l-o-w from a clean formula sunless tanner, high intensity exercise, adequate hydration, and a nutritious diet.
Broad spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30+) application all over your body and sun protective clothing should be worn year-rough regardless of:
- The weather – 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin on cloudy days. Waters, snow and sand reflect and magnify the damaging rays of the sun, increasing your chance of sunburn.4
- Perceived skin cancer risk – everyone is at risk for melanoma despite age, skin color, gender identity, or family history.
Each time you apply sunscreen, use about one ounce (a shot-glassful) and apply 15 minutes before sun exposure — reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or sweating. Be sure to also cover up with long sleeved pants and shirts, wide brimmed hats, and sunglasses. Further research is needed, but sunglasses may help prevent ocular melanoma. See below for more information.
Monthly Self Skin Exam
YOU are most likely to first spot a melanoma on your skin. Routinely examine your skin and any moles to identify any changes early on. Put your selfie skills to good use and photograph your moles or use a mole mapping app to keep track of any changes in your skin. If you do notice any changes in your skin or moles, prioritize seeing your primary care provider or dermatologist immediately.
Use the ABCDE’s of Melanoma to know what to look out for and help monitor any changes. A mirror can help check areas that are hard to see, such as your shoulders, back, and groin area. The Self Screening Guide for the how-tos of self-skin exams.
Wondering what to expect during a professional skin exam by dermatologist? Or what sunscreen products provide the best coverage? Check out these additional resources:
Professional skin exam basics:
What to Expect From a Skin Cancer Screening
How well do sunscreen products protect:
UV Camera Reveals the Best Way to Apply Sunscreen to Your Face
The Real Truths About Tanning
- A “base tan” provides zero protection from additional UV exposure — sunburns can still happen.
- Using tanning beds before age 35 increases your chances of melanoma by 75%.
can save your life!
Rare melanoma subtypes, ocular and mucosal melanomas, also affect teens and young adults. Steps can be taken to aid in early detection of these melanoma subtypes.
Hover over the indicators for more information.
Ocular melanoma (OM) is an aggressive form of melanoma affecting the structures of the eye. OM is detected during a routine eye exam and therefore, visiting your optometrist or ophthalmologist regularly is critical.5
Mucosal melanoma is found in the in the mucosal areas of the body including the nasal passages, mouth, vagina, and anus and are not considered to be related to UV exposure. Routine visits with a variety of healthcare providers including:
- Ear, nose, and throat specialists (ENTs)
are the most important steps you can take for early detection of mucosal melanoma.
- National Cancer Institute: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/aya.html
- American Cancer Society, https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2021/cancer-facts-and-figures-2021.pdf
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/tips-stay-safe-sun-sunscreen-sunglasses
- American Academy of Dermatology Association, https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs#
- American Cancer Society, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/eye-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/prevention.html
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/indoor-tanning-risks-ultraviolet-rays
Content last updated August 2021.