16 NCCN Guidelines for Patients ® : Melanoma, 2018 1 Melanoma basics Risks and prevention Immune suppression Some diseases and drugs weaken (suppress) the immune system—the body’s natural defense against infection and disease. Individuals with a weakened immune system may have a higher risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. Prevention The number of people with melanoma is increasing, but there are ways to lower your risk. Check your skin and tell your doctor about any changes in your moles or skin. If you have many moles, a dermatologist should check your skin regularly. A dermatologist is a doctor who’s an expert in skin diseases. One of the most important ways to prevent melanoma skin cancer is to limit your sun exposure and to avoid tanning in the sun or in tanning beds. It is helpful to avoid peak sun exposure between the hours of 10:00 am – 4:00 pm in the summer months or sunny climates. Parents should make sure their children practice sun protection. Protecting children is very important since sunburns at an early age can greatly increase the risk for melanoma later in life. There are many ways to protect your skin. Things you may find helpful are listed here. Stay in the shade. This is the best way to avoid UV light when outdoors. Wear clothes that protect your skin. Long- sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats with brims make a difference. • You can find clothing at sporting goods stores made from fabrics designed to limit UV exposure. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF ( s un p rotection f actor) of 30 or higher every day, because UV light is always present. Broad- spectrum sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays. • The SPF allows a person to spend longer time in the sun without burning. The SPF refers mainly to protection from UVB rays. • An SPF of at least 15 has been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer and damage to the skin that causes it too look older (photoaging). • Re-apply sunscreen if you sweat and after swimming since it may have come off. • Don’t use sunscreen to increase the time spent in the sun. UV light still reaches the skin when wearing sunscreen. Wear sunglasses with 99% to 100% UVA and UVB protection. These glasses provide the best protection for the eye area. Don’t use tanning beds. They expose skin to higher levels of UV rays than natural sunlight and are not safer than sun exposure. • Tanning bed use is linked with a higher risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer.