What's my chance of getting skin cancer?

Learn what puts you more at risk.


Are you a snowbird who escapes to Arizona every winter? Or do you live in a sunny climate year-round and walk the beach every day? Where you live is only one thing that determines your chance of getting skin cancer. 

Here's what else can raise your chances of having skin cancer:

  • Have had skin cancer before
  • Have a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma
  • Have many moles, irregular moles or large moles
  • Have freckles and burn before tanning
  • Have fair skin, blue or green eyes, or blond, red or light brown hair
  • Live or vacation at high altitudes. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are stronger the higher up you are
  • Live or vacation in tropical or subtropical climates  
  • Work indoors all week and then get intense sun on weekends
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Have certain autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus)
  • Have certain inherited medical problems that raise your chance of getting skin cancer, like xeroderma pigmentosum or nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (Gorlin syndrome)
  • Have a medical problem that weakens your immune system, like HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)
  • Have had an organ transplant
  • Take medicines that lower or suppress your immune system
  • Take medicines that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight

Schedule your annual skin exam


Ask your doctor about it during your Annual Wellness Visit.

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The bottom line? Limit how much sun and how many UV rays you get. This can help keep your skin healthy and lower your chances of getting skin cancer. 

Most people get at least some UV rays when they are outdoors. But sun protection will help you enjoy the outdoors safely. It will help keep you from getting a sunburn and lower your skin cancer risk.

When outdoors you should:

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Many experts suggest an SPF of 30 or higher. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the label.
  • Wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Cover up with long sleeves and pants. Wear a hat with a wide brim.
  • Seek shade on sunny days, especially when the sun is most intense. This is usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Also, don’t use indoor tanning methods, where you can get high levels of UV radiation. Any change in skin color after UV exposure (whether it is a tan or a burn) is a sign of injury, not health. Over time, too much exposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer.


Will Medicare cover an Annual Wellness Visit?


Original Medicare covers the Annual Wellness Visit at 100% of the Medicare-approved amount when you get the service from a provider who accepts Medicare. You pay nothing (no deductible or coinsurance).

Medicare Advantage plans must cover Annual Wellness Visits without applying deductibles, copays or coinsurance when you:

  • See a network provider, and 
  • Meet Medicare’s rules for the service


The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.