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Skin Cancer Awareness Month 2024

Poster of the Euromelanoma 2024 Campaign

May 31, 2024

The incidence of skin cancer continues to rise, even though the risk factors are well known. Skin Cancer Awareness Month takes place every May to remind people of the preventive and early detection measures for this type of cancer, with the aim of reversing this trend and improving outcomes.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation: a major risk factor for skin cancer

Every year, around 1.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed worldwide*. More than 85% of these cancers are attributable to excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation*.

The harmful effects of UVB rays on the skin have long been known, but our understanding of the impact of UVA rays on skin health and the development of sunscreens offering UVA protection are more recent.

UVA rays (320 to 400 nm) are less energetic than UVB rays (280 to 320 nm), but they account for 80% of all UV radiation emitted by the sun. They are present all year round and throughout day (from 8 a.m), and can also pass through windows. The longest UVA wavelengths (340 to 400 nm)–called UVA1– are often emitted by sunbeds.

UVA wavelengths penetrate deeper into the dermis and skin structures than UVB wavelengths, accentuating skin aging and leading to the development of pigmented spots. In addition, even though UVB rays are responsible for most skin cancers, UVA rays can also promote the onset of skin cancers.

Preventive and early detection measures for skin cancers

Skin cancer prevention

Limiting exposure to natural UV rays (sun) and artificial UV rays (sunbeds) is essential for skin health and reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.

  • Avoid unnecessary exposure
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Apply sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) against UVB and UVA rays 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every 2 hours
  • Protect children

Early detection of skin cancers

The Euromelanoma 2024 campaign