About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. There are three common types of skin cancer. Their names come from the type of skin cell in which they begin: basal cell carcinoma; squamous cell carcinoma; and melanoma, the most serious common form of skin cancer. Most of these cancers can be prevented by changing behaviors, and most can be cured if diagnosed and treated early.

What You Should Do

Protect Yourself and Your Family

  • Apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher that is labelled “broad spectrum” (offering protection from both types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB). Water-resistant sunscreen is best for swimming and exercising.
    • Make sure to put it on all areas of skin exposed to the sun, including ears, neck, nose, eyelids, fingers and toes, and reapply every two hours.
    • Look for products that are zinc-oxide or titanium-oxide based. For more information on sunscreen and its active ingredients, visit the Food and Drug Administration’s sunscreen website.  
  • Seek shade, especially when the sun rays are the strongest between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
  • Wear clothing made from fabric with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating, especially if you work outdoors.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Add a neck shade made from UPF-rated fabric to hard hats to shade the ears and neck
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses with UV protection whenever possible
  • Use caution near water, sand and snow, because they reflect and intensify UV rays, and can increase the likelihood of sunburn
  • Avoid indoor tanning, which is strongly associated with skin cancer and is now illegal for minors in the state of Rhode Island.

Get Screened

  • Talk with your primary care provider about seeing a dermatologist and getting screened for skin cancer, especially if you have a family history of it.
  • Get your kids screened. Skin cancer is a growing concern for children, especially among adolescents. Talk with your child's pediatrician about skin cancer screening and prevention.
  • Get screened annually if you work, play, or spend a lot of time outdoors.

What We Do

Sponsor Screenings

Prevention Education Activities

  • Provide free "Play it safe – seek shade and use sunscreen!" banners and posters to local parks and recreation programs and other outdoor recreation venues.
  • Work with local school districts and trade schools to incorporate skin cancer prevention into their health and worksite safety curricula.
  • Provide public education at community events with the Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island.

Policy, System and Environmental Change (PSE) Strategies

  • Provide technical assistance to community partners seeking to improve Rhode Island’s policies around skin cancer prevention and early detection.
  • Provide free consultations to employers of outdoor workers, to improve skin cancer prevention protections by increasing access to shade and sunscreen and deploying other workplace protections for workers regularly exposed to the sun.
  • Ensure that the Rhode Island Cancer Prevention and Control Strategic Plan includes evidence-based activities to prevent and detect skin cancer.
  • Partner with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to provide free sunscreen at State parks and beaches.