Frequently Asked Questions about Sun Safety

Dr. VanderWaldeAt the UT/West Institute, we are dedicated to the overall health of the Mid-South community, and we know that a healthy lifestyle is paramount for cancer prevention. As summer quickly approaches, Ari VanderWalde, MD, MPH, MBioeth, Medical Oncologist and Director of Clinical Research at West Cancer Center, shares tips on how to best protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Although skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., it is also one of the most preventable.

How can I stay safe in the sun?

Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention. Try to limit the time you spend in the sun during the peak hours of 10am – 4pm, when the sun is strongest. Be sure to wear effective sunscreen or sunblock, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat to minimize your susceptibility to sun damage.

Should I use sunscreen or sunblock?

Sunblock is more recommended. Although sunblock cannot block all the rays of the sun, it is the most effective option to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. You should use a sunblock with an SPF of 50 or higher and reapply every few hours.

What are the dangers of getting sunburned?

Sunburns are particularly dangerous because they result in damage to the skin, which can directly cause the mutations that cause cancer. Sunburns are also most associated with melanoma – the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

Always be aware of the amount of sun exposure to your skin. Pay attention to your body and familiarize yourself with the pattern of your moles, freckles and other marks. Perform monthly self-examinations to look for new growths, spots or other abnormalities.