​​By Michelle Snow, Librarian, Patient Education & Engagement, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada. Ultra violet rays from the sun can damage anyone’s skin over time and we all have to be careful when heading out into the sun regardless of the season. The UV Index provides us with information about the strength of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. The UV Index predicts the sun’s intensity on a scale that ranges from 0 (low intensity) to 11+ (high intensity). The higher the number, the stronger the sun’s rays. Ultra violet rays from the sun can cause skin cancer and can damage skin over time but skin cancer can be prevented.

Below are some sun safety tips to help you practice sun safety in all seasons:

  • Try to stay out of the sun between 11 am and 4 pm when the sun’s rays are most intense.
  • Look for a shady spot under a tree or under a sun umbrella
  • Wear sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection
  • Use a sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 or higher. SPF means Sun Protection Factor. The sunscreen should also say "broad-spectrum" on the label, to screen out most of the UVA and UVB rays.
  • Put on your sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and reapply often.
  • Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your lips, ears and nose – these parts burn easily!
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat
  • Put on more sunscreen after swimming or sweating     
  • ​How to find skin cancer early

    Get regular health checkups and find symptoms early. When skin cancer is found and treated early, you have a better chance of treatment success.

    Report these symptoms to your doctor

    ​See your doctor right away if you have a:

  • new mark or spot on your skin
  • mole or spot that is changing i.e. size, shape, colour or height (elevation, or how much it is raised above the skin)
  • spot or mole that looks different from all of the other moles on your skin
  • spot or mole that is asymmetric (one side of the spot does not match the other side)
  • spot or mole that is irregular or ragged around the edges

    Online information on sun protection and cancers of the skin

  • Canadian Cancer Society www.cancer.ca
  • Canadian Dermatology Association www.dermatology.ca
  • Melanoma Network of Canada www.melanomanetwork.ca
  • Save Your Skin www.saveyourskin.ca
  • Skin Cancer Guide www.skincancerguide.ca

  • https://www.uhn.ca/PrincessMargaret/Health_Professionals/Patient_Referral/Pages/dr_referral_psychosocial_oncology.aspx
    Last reviewed:
    Last modified: 5/10/2022 10:00 AM