According to a new American Academy of Dermatology survey, only about one-third of adults are concerned about developing skin cancer — the most common cancer in the U.S. — even though nearly 70% say they have at least one risk factor for the disease.

In the AAD’s 2021 SPOT Skin Cancer™ survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, the AAD found that 49% said they are more worried about avoiding sunburn than preventing skin cancer. Additional survey findings show:

  • 32% said they are more worried about avoiding wrinkles than preventing skin cancer.
  • 25% said they got a sunburn in 2020.

“These findings are surprising and seem to suggest that many people do not take skin cancer seriously or perhaps believe skin cancer won’t happen to them,” says board-certified dermatologist Robert T. Brodell, MD, FAAD, professor and founding chair of the department of dermatology and professor of pathology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. "Yet, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and nearly 20 Americans die from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, every day.”

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone can get skin cancer. People with some characteristics, however, are at greater risk:

  • A personal history of skin cancer

     • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or 

        becomes painful in the sun

     • Blue or green eyes

     • Blonde or red hair

     • More than 50 moles

     • A family history of skin cancer

     • A personal history of skin cancer

Dr. Brodell encourages everyone to #PracticeSafeSun — such as seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing, and applying sunscreen — especially individuals with a greater risk of developing skin cancer. In advance of the first day of summer, Dr. Brodell is available to discuss skin cancer risk factors, the importance of sun protection, and how to spot skin cancer warning signs.

The American Academy of Dermatology has resources available to the public that provide additional information about skin cancer and how to protect your skin from the sun.

More information: