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Atrium Health Navicent Physicians Share Tips to Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk

Woman applying suntan lotion.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and doctors at Atrium Health Navicent want to remind you to be sun-safe when planning summer activities. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, an invisible type of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps, can lead to skin cancer, as UV rays are especially damaging to skin cells.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States with 6.1 million adults treated for skin cancer annually. One in 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In Georgia, 3,470 people are estimated to develop skin cancer in 2024, leading to 190 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.


“The leading risk for skin cancer is sun exposure, which is important to remember as you head outside to enjoy summertime activities. Be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, and apply it to your children as well,” said Dr. Paul Dale, chief of surgical oncology for Atrium Health Navicent and medical director for the Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center. “If you have had three blistering sunburns at any time during your life, you face an increased risk for skin cancer. And that risk only increases as you age.”


Atrium Health Navicent physicians recommend individuals take the following preventative steps to protect their skin from too much UV exposure and to lower their skin cancer risk:

  • Stay in the shade as much as possible, under an umbrella, tree or other shelter.

  • Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when you’re outside, even if you’re in the shade. Full-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher should be applied in a thick layer on all exposed skin. The higher the SPF, the more protection the sunscreen offers. Be sure to reapply at least every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off. The use of sunscreen is not recommended for babies under 6 months old. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that infants be dressed in protective clothing and kept in the shade.

  • Wear a hat that has a brim that shades your face, ears and the back of your neck. If you wear a baseball cap, protect your ears and the back of your neck with clothing, sunscreen or by staying in the shade.

  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. Sunglasses also protect the skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Wrap-around styles block UV rays from coming in from the side.


Another way to lower your risk is to see the doctor whenever you have concerns about a spot on your skin.


“If you’re concerned about a mole or another spot on your skin, don’t hesitate to see your primary care doctor or dermatologist. The earlier we identify cancer, the better we can treat it. Moles that itch or change shape, size, or color should be examined as soon as possible,” Dale said.


Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center offers testing that not only determines the scope of skin cancer, but also the likelihood of reoccurrence throughout your body. Castle testing, for melanoma and other skin cancers, helps doctors grade cancer by examining its genetic makeup. Another test, Signatera, detects tumor-specific DNA in the patient’s blood, thus detecting recurrence months prior to it showing up on PET or CT scans.


Patients diagnosed with melanoma have better outcomes when they have access to comprehensive care. In addition to both the Castle and Signatera specialized testing, Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center offers expertise from a multidisciplinary team, including Dale and Dr. Arnold Conforti who trained at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, and a range of services caring for patients from screening and diagnosis, through treatment and into survivorship.  The Cancer Center is accredited by the Commission on Cancer with Commendation – Gold Level.


For more information about Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, call 478-633-3000. To find a doctor, visit and click “Find A Doctor.”


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