Healthwise for Guys: Skin Cancer

(FN1869, Revised November 2023)

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of skin cells due to DNA damage. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common and highly curable types of skin cancer. A third type, melanoma, causes the most deaths.

Lead Author
Lead Author:
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist
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Quick Quiz

1. True or false: The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men more than 50 years old.

2. True or false: One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during his/her lifetime.

3. True or false: Vehicle windows do not block the rays of the sun.

Answers: All are true statements.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of skin cells due to DNA damage. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common and highly curable types of skin cancer. A third type, melanoma, causes the most deaths.

How common is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the world. Factors such as skin type, previous history, tanning bed use, unprotected sun exposure, smoking and poor diet all contribute to increased risk. In 2020, 8,214 people (2,839 women and 5,375 men) in the U.S. died from melanomas of the skin. In the United States, 77,230 new cases of melanomas of the skin were reported in 2020. Source: https://gis.cdc.gov/Cancer/USCS/#/AtAGlance/

What are some potential signs of skin cancer?

According to one study, self-checks of skin may decrease mortality from melanoma by 63 percent because doctors do not routinely check for skin abnormalities.

Do you have any spots on your skin that:YesNo
Have changed in color, size or texture?oo
Have irregular borders?oo
Are bigger than ¼ inch (pencil eraser)?oo
Appeared after age 21?oo
Appear pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored?oo
Itch, hurt, crust over or scab, erode, bleed or haven’t healed within three weeks?oo

If you say “yes” to any of the above, let your health-care provider know.

How can I lower my risk?

Sunscreen is vital for helping prevent skin cancer. Check out the sun protection factor (SPF) on sunscreen bottles. Most sources recommend sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreens with a higher SPF offer more protection.

Be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen (about 1 ounce per application) and get help as needed to apply sunscreen to your back, for example. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more often if you are swimming or perspiring.

When you purchase sunscreen, look for an expiration date. If it does not have an expiration date, label the bottle with the date of purchase and use within three years.

Follow these sun safety recommendations:

  • Seek shade, especially during the midday hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Wear sunscreen even if you are under a protective umbrella or shady tree, or while driving in your car on a summer road trip.
  • For best sun protection when outdoors, wear long-sleeved clothes and pants made from tightly woven fabric.
  • Be sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat made from fabric with a tight weave to shade your eyes and protect your neck and ears.
  • Wear high-quality sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV (ultraviolet)-A and UV-B rays. Exposure to UV rays is linked with macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss as we age. Cataracts (a clouding of the cornea) and skin cancer on the eyelids also are linked to unprotected exposure to sunlight.


These recipes were selected because many of the ingredients are associated with healthy skin and reducing the risk for cancer.

Key to abbreviations:

  • c. = cup
  • Tbsp. = tablespoon
  • tsp. = teaspoon
  • g = gram
  • mg = milligram
  • % = percent

Salmon With Mango Salsa

Salmon with Mango Salsa
Photo Credit:

4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, thawed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 mango, peeled, pitted, diced
1 cucumber, seeded, diced
½ c. plum tomato, seeded, diced
¼ c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ c. red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. lime peel, grated
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Brush salmon fillets evenly with 1 Tbsp. oil. Cook salmon according to package directions in oven or use an indoor or outdoor grill. First zest the limes, then squeeze the juice out of the remaining flesh using a juicer. For the diced ingredients, aim for about ¼-inch dice (quite small). Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; mix in 1 Tbsp. oil. Season salsa with salt and pepper. Serve salmon with mango salsa.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 230 calories, 14 g fat, 6 g carbohydrate, 19 g protein and 55 mg sodium.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedgeds
Photo Credit:

4 large sweet potatoes or yams, skin on, cut lengthwise into ½-inch wedges
2 Tbsp. canola oil (or other oil)
1/3 c. brown sugar
¼ c. walnuts
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. curry powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 F. Place walnuts in a minichopper or food processor and process until ground. Mix ground walnuts, sugar, salt and curry in a small bowl. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil and half of the walnut mixture. Spread potatoes evenly on a greased jelly roll pan.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender when pierced with a fork. Place in a serving dish and sprinkle with remaining walnut mixture.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 130 calories, 6 g fat, 2 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate and 290 mg sodium.

Berry Good Smoothie

Berry Good Smoothie
Photo Credit:

2 c. ice (about 14 ice cubes)
1 c. 1% or skim milk
1½ c. frozen triple berry blend fruit (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry)
10 baby carrots
1 tsp. ground flax seed
1 c. 100% berry juice or preferred juice

Place ingredients in blender in same order as written. Blend until smooth.

* All fruit can be fresh or frozen, but frozen gives a better texture.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 90 calories, 0 g fat, 2 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 50 mg sodium.


See www.ag.ndsu.edu/healthwiseforguys for more information about men’s health.