Skin cancer and sun safety

Each year, more than two million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer. When detected and treated early, skin cancer can be cured. [Source: American Cancer Society 2008,]

This video is an example of skin cancer and sun safety public awareness activities from the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS):

Community outreach

The COEC has compiled a report that highlights the latest research on skin cancer and its environmental and genetic risk factors for the NC Comprehensive Cancer Program. The core has also collaborated with various organizations, including the UNC Department of Dermatology, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and ABC11, to develop educational materials and increase public awareness about the dangers of skin cancer and how to reduce risks. Working directly with the community, the COEC staff has conducted a workshop, entitled “Skin Cancer Risk and Ways to Reduce It” along with hands-on activities with youth, child care providers and health professionals.


Researchers in CEHS are conducting studies to better understand the genetic and environmental basis of skin cancer. Read about the Genes, Environment and Melanoma (GEM) study or learn about more CEHS skin cancer research in the Environmental Cancer Flexible Interdisciplinary Research Group (FIRG).

Ways to stay safe in the sun

Research has shown that exposure to UV, especially in childhood, increases the likelihood of developing the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma. However, it is also important for adults to be safe in the sun
Here are a few tips for how to best protect yourself from harmful UV radiation:
  • Seek shade during peak sun hours (10 am to 4 pm).
  • Cover up: When outdoors, wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants, a hat to shade the ears, face, and eyes, and sunglasses to protect the skin around the eyes.
  • Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher — and reapply often. The higher the SPF, the better.
  • Check the UV index, which predicts the next day’s UV radiation levels on a 1-11+ scale, to help you plan sun-safe activities.
  • Avoid tanning beds, which often release UVA and UVB rays, causing long-term skin damage and skin cancer.
  • Wear sunglasses that block out UVA and UVB rays to help prevent the onset of eye disease.

Educational materials

Additional resources

For more information about community outreach on skin cancer and sun safety, contact Neasha Graves.

Email: Phone: (919) 966-3746


Funded by NIEHS Grant # P30 ES010126