According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, more people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined.

The American Cancer Society estimates that one person in the U.S. dies from skin cancer every hour. Melanoma is the second-most common form of cancer in young adults ages 15-29.

Skin cancer can be caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is especially prevalent in the summer months when the sun’s rays are strongest. Overexposure to the sun’s UV radiation can not only cause skin cancer but also premature aging of the skin, eye damage and immune system suppression.

During the summer months, take extra precautions to protect your skin from too much UV exposure. Unprotected skin can be damaged in as little as 15 minutes, yet may take as long as 12 hours to show its effect on your skin.

Summer sun safety tips

  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher at least 15 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours
  • Remember that the sun’s UV rays are just as strong on overcast days as on sunny days
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your face and neck
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Use an umbrella or stay in shady areas
  • Check the UV index before heading outside – the scale ranks the sun’s radiation from 0 to 10+ (anything higher than six can be damaging to your skin)
  • Remember that UV rays are most dangerous between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as well as near water, snow and sand, because the rays reflect from the ground

In many cases, skin cancer in adults is caused by a person’s lack of sun protection as a child. It is important to take extra steps to protect children’s skin, who may spend more time outside while the sun is strongest. In addition, people with fair skin, blue or green eyes and blond or red hair should also be aware of their exposure to the UV radiation, as they are at a higher risk for skin cancer.