No cancer, including melanoma, can ever be prevented with 100% certainty. Some genetic and hereditary risk factors for melanoma, such as skin type and family history, cannot be changed. Sometimes melanoma may develop despite your best efforts to prevent it from occurring. The good news is the risk factors for melanoma are well known. An awareness of hereditary risk factors allows you to take steps to detect the disease before it has a chance to grow and spread, and when treatment is more likely to result in a cure. (See Early Detection for more information.) An awareness of the environmental risk factors allows you to reduce significantly your risk of developing melanoma.

The primary environmental risk factor for melanoma is overexposure to the sun's damaging rays, known as ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In this section, you will find important information to help you protect yourself from the UV radiation and other tips to help you reduce your risk of melanoma.

You are likely to receive about 80% of your lifetime sun exposure during the first 18 years of life. Therefore, sun safety for infants, children, and teens is vital to preventing skin cancer in later years.