Skin cancer prevention

Most skin cancers can be prevented by protecting your skin and minimising your sun exposure.

Skin cancer is often referred to as Australia’s national cancer, with one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world1.

While it may be Australia’s national cancer, the good news is that it can be prevented. An estimated 95% of skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. You can put steps in place to protect yourself and your family from harmful UV radiation and reduce your risk.

For the best protection, when the UV level is 3 or above, minimise your sun exposure and use a combination of sun protection measures to protect your skin. To stay on top of UV levels throughout the day in over 600 locations, you can download the free SunSmart app.

Sun-smart tips to protect your skin

When the UV is 3 or higher, use a combination of these measures to protect your skin.


Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible. The best protection comes from closely woven fabrics. For clothes designed for sun protection, the higher the UPF (ultraviolet protection factor), the greater the protection.


Apply a water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30+ or higher at least 20 minutes before going outside, as it takes this long to sink into the skin. Reapply every two hours, after swimming and after any activity that causes you to sweat or rub the sunscreen off.


Wear a broad-brimmed hat that protects your face, head, neck and ears.


Use shade from trees, umbrellas, buildings or any type of canopy. Be aware that UV radiation is reflective and bounces off surfaces such as concrete, snow, water, soil and sand, causing sun damage even when you think you’re shaded.

TAL Sunglasses icon

Wear sunglasses that meet the Australian and New Zealand standard AS/NZS 1067:2003 and have an EPF (eye protection factor) of 10. Close-fitting, wrap-around styles are best.

Visit Cancer Council Victoria's SunSmart website for more information.

Early detection can save lives

Check your skin at home

Get to know your skin with regular self-checks to maximise your chances of detecting skin cancer early.

Find out what to look for

Make online booking
Get a professional skin check

In addition to self-checking regularly, it is also important to get regular professional skin checks by your GP, dermatologist or a skin cancer clinic.

Book a skin check with a GP*

*Bookings are made through Health Direct, a government-funded service. Visit our Health Direct Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

  1. Ferlay J, Soerjomatram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin D, Forman D, Bray F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11. IARC, World Health Organisation, 2013.