May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

When Walt Whitman wrote, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine—and shadows will fall behind you,” we assume he meant with a broad-brimmed hat and covered in sunscreen.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. As a spa professional, you’re in a unique position. You see your clients often and can keep an eye out for signs of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates 87,110 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 52,170 in men and 34,940 in women) in 2017. The rates of melanoma have been rising for the last 30 years.

Pop quiz: Can you name the A, B, C, D, E warning signs of melanoma?

The warning signs are asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving. Check out the latest issue of ASCP Skin Deep magazine for a helpful graphic with more detail.

A mole that changes in size, shape, or color is a dangerous mole and needs evaluation by a physician. If you notice something unusual, simply raise the subject with your client to make them aware of it, and be clear you are not making any type of diagnose. It’s vital to practice within your scope of practice.

Here are some tips from The Skin Cancer Foundation about how to prevent skin cancer:

  • Always use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher
  • Avoid tanning, including UV tanning booths
  • Seek shade, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is the strongest
  • Cover up with a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • Examine your skin from head to toe every month for signs of a changing mole or a suspicious-looking new one

Helpful Resources:

Free ASCP ebook, Skin Care for the Oncology Client:

ASCP member-only webinar, The Skinny on Skin:

Mark Lee’s guide to sun care facts & fallacies:

Infographic from the American Academy of Dermatology:


—Tara Doyle is ASCP's social media and marketing coordinator.

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