Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada. The two general categories of skin cancer are non-melanoma and melanoma. Non-melanoma is the most commonly diagnosed, usually grows slowly and rarely causes death. Melanoma, while less common, is the most serious because it can spread to other parts of the body and cause death.

The single most important risk factor for developing skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and tanning beds.

People at Risk

Some people have a higher than average risk of developing skin cancer. The risk is higher for people who:

  • Have light-coloured skin, eyes or hair
  • Have a personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Have a large number of moles or atypical moles
  • Work outdoors
  • Participate in outdoor recreational activities
  • Have a history of severe sunburn
  • Have a history of using tanning equipment
  • Take medications that suppress the immune system
  • Have received an organ transplant

Visit MyCancerIQ.ca to find out your risk of developing melanoma.

Skin Cancer is Highly Preventable

Some of the factors that increase or decrease your risk of developing skin cancer are things you can't change or control, such as the colour of your skin, or whether or not you have moles. But the single most important risk factor for skin cancer is something you can change: your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Learn your risk factors and then take action to reduce your risk of skin cancer:

Know your Skin

It's important to find skin cancer early. When melanoma is found and treated early, the chances of successful treatment are better.

To learn how to check your skin, including the ABCDEs of early detection for melanoma, visit the Canadian Cancer Society or the Canadian Dermatology Association.

It's important to know your skin so you can recognize changes. Talk to your health care provider about any changes to your skin.


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