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Staying Sun Smart On The Green: Tips For Skin Cancer Prevention

April 12, 2024

Applying and reapplying sunscreen at places like the pool or beach are part of most people’s outdoor routine. However, many may not consider that other outdoor activities, such as golf, can lead to prolonged sun exposure and potentially skin cancer.

In 2024, the American Cancer Society estimates that 5,340 new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in Texas. Exposure to UV rays is the leading risk factor for most skin cancers. Golfers have a higher risk of developing skin cancer due to the long-term sun exposure of the sport. When golfing on a sunny day, one can expect to spend four to five hours in direct sunlight.

A 2023 study out of Australia found that more than 25% of golfers in their country have been diagnosed with skin cancer at some point. The study also suggests that golfers have a nearly 250% greater risk of developing skin cancer versus those who are not spending their time out on the course.

It is important to stay vigilant and keep a keen eye out for signs of skin cancer which may include skin discoloration, changes to a mole, the appearance of a new growth on the skin, or a lesion on the skin that is bleeding, crusting, or itching. Yearly skin checks can help detect and remove precancerous growths, and if necessary, treat skin cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage.

Remember these three tips to protect your health:

Apply sunscreen

Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (protective against both UVA and UVB rays) that is water-resistant with SPF 30 or higher on all areas of skin exposed to the sun. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or sooner if you are sweating.

Wear protective clothing

Tightly woven, long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts are the most protective against UV rays. Other protective gear can include a wide-brimmed hat that shields areas exposed to the sun’s rays, such as the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp, and wrap-around UVA- and UVB-light blocking sunglasses.

Scheduling tee times and selecting courses
Scheduling tee times to earlier or later in the day to avoid the most intense UV rays can help you protect your skin. Picking courses with lots of shade can also help reduce risk of skin cancer.

No matter if you are a pro playing in the Valero Texas Open, The CJ Cup Byron Nelson, Colonial National Invitational – Charles Schwab Challenge, or just an amateur spending a relaxing Sunday at your local golf course, taking extra safety precautions while golfing can greatly reduce your risk of skin cancer.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.