Simple Ways to Help You Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer: Free Skin Cancer Screening

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital offers a free skin cancer screening event on September 19th.

With more than three million people diagnosed every year, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It’s also one of the most treatable cancers when diagnosed early and largely preventable if you avoid the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and tanning beds.

“These rays can cause damage in as little as 15 minutes, but a few simple actions can go a long way toward safeguarding ourselves,” said Clive Shkedy, M.D., board-certified radiation oncologist with Houston Methodist Radiation Oncology Group at Sugar Land.

Staying out of the sun is the first and foremost recommendation, along with choosing to avoid tanning beds. But when you can’t avoid being exposed to the sun, a combination of sunscreen and protective clothing is your best bet. “Sunscreen alone is helpful, but loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and long pants made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection,” said Shkedy. “Obviously, we can’t completely cover ourselves in fabric, so sunscreen is good for those areas of the skin that remain exposed.”

A hat helps protect your scalp, face, ears and even your neck. Choose canvas over straw, which can let rays through its holes. Sunglasses not only protect the sensitive skin around your eyes, but they can also help prevent cataracts.

Sunscreen Savvy

Be sure to apply sunscreen 30 minutes ahead of sun exposure and reapply every two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Water-resistant sunscreen still needs to be reapplied every two hours. You can use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF (sun protection factor) of 15, but the higher the number, the better.

Don’t forget to check the expiration date on sunscreen. That bottle from your beach vacation three years ago has most likely lost its effectiveness. If there is no expiration date, three years is considered the standard shelf life for sunscreen, but higher temperatures can shorten the lifespan.

Warning Signs

Check your skin at least once a month for warning signs of precancerous or cancerous moles or lesions, using these ABCDE guidelines:

  • Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
  • Border: The border or edges are ragged, blurred or irregular.
  • Color: The color varies throughout the spot or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white or red.
  • Diameter: The diameter is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
  •  Evolution:

There is a change in size, shape or color.

“If you find anything questionable, even outside the typical warning signs, be sure to ask your physician,” added Shkedy. “Skin cancer can present itself in a multitude of ways, so it is better to get checked early when it is more easily treated than to wait until it grows.”

To learn more about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, visit or call 281.274.7500. You can also visit our Facebook page at for the latest news, events and information.

Skin Cancer Screening on September 19th

Estimates indicate one in five Americans will get skin cancer during their lifetime. Join Houston Methodist Sugar Land and two dermatologists for a free SPOTme® skin cancer screening, a visual exam that is painless, only takes a few minutes and could save your life. The screenings are available between 8 am and noon on Saturday, September 19th.  Registration is required and space is limited. For more information or to register, visit  or call 281.274.0145. Attendees will be asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Patient rooms will be sanitized between each skin screening appointment.