May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month | Learn How to Protect Your Skin

With what seemed like the winter that would never end, most North Dakotans are more than ready to get outside and enjoy summer activities. Whether it is working in the yard or watching a ballgame, it’s important to make sun safety an everyday habit to avoid getting a sunburn and lowering your chance of getting skin cancer.

With over 5 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year, skin cancer is America’s most common cancer. Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers. To lower your skin cancer risk, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning.

Tips to Help You Stay Sun Safe

  • Stay in the shade as much as possible especially late morning through mid-afternoon.
  • Dress in a lightweight long-sleeved shirt or cover-up.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim that shades your face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Sport sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum protection) and reapply every 2 hours if you’re swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Facts About Skin Cancer

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
  • Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays causes most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer.
  • It only takes one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence to nearly double a person's risk of developing melanoma later in life.
  • Melanoma is more common in men than women and among individuals of fair complexion.
  • Using tanning beds before age 20 can increase your chances of developing melanoma by 47%, and the risk increases with each use.
  • Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes.
  • Even if it’s cool and cloudy, you still need protection—UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage.
  • The most common signs of skin cancer are changes on your skin, such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole.


The entire month of May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and provides the opportunity to focus on skin cancer prevention. Within the month of May, there are two recognition days to boost additional awareness. The first Monday in May (May 1, 2023) is “Melanoma Monday”—a day created to call attention to the seriousness of melanoma and to encourage everyone to perform a skin self-exam. The Friday before Memorial Day (May 26, 2023) is “Don’t Fry Day”—a day designed to encourage sun safety awareness and to remind everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors.

Whatever the day, it’s important for young and old to know how to prevent skin cancer through sun safe practices. Now that Old Man Winter has moved out for the season, it’s time to get out and enjoy our beautiful North Dakota weather—safely, of course.

For more information on sun safety and skin cancer awareness, check out these sites:
Skin Cancer Foundation
American Cancer Society
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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