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The best way to lower your risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer is to reduce the amount of time you spend unprotected in the sun (and in other sources of ultraviolet light). The simplest way to do this is to stay in the shade whenever possible, especially in the middle of the day, when sunlight is the most intense.

Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that can harm your skin and eyes.


  • Ultraviolet rays can penetrate clouds, fog and haze.
  • Ultraviolet rays can also penetrate water, so you need sun protection when swimming.
  • Water, sand, concrete and especially snow can reflect and even increase the sun's burning rays. You also need sun protection in the winter.
  • Tanning booths and sun lamps use UV rays and can also cause cancer.

You can protect most of your skin with clothing, including a shirt and a hat with a broad brim.

To help you remember sun guidelines, think of the word HATS.

H - Wear a HAT and sunglasses (preferably wrap-around sunglasses, with 99 to 100 percent UV absorption, to help protect the eyes and the skin area around the eyes).

A - AVOID the sun between 11 am and 2 pm.

T - Wear a T-SHIRT (preferably densely woven).

S - Apply SUNSCREEN that protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Many sunscreens will wear off with sweating and swimming, so be sure to reapply.


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Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

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  • Women's College Hospital