How Pharmacists Can Help Prevent Skin Cancer

1 year ago  •  Add Comment  •  by Donna Bliss

FACT.  4.3 million. That’s the number of reported patients diagnosed with skin cancer yearly in America.

You might be thinking skin cancer won’t affect you; it only happens to other people or it won’t affect a loved one. We all live in denial sometimes especially when it comes to sad truths about cancer.

Sad truth #1: anyone can be a victim of skin cancer at any given time. Sad truth #2: in many cases it could’ve been prevented.

Your pharmacist can play a very important role in helping you prevent skin cancer.

Your Pharmacist & Cancer

Are you aware that your pharmacist is a trained skin cancer educator? Most of us are not aware that pharmacists study more than just medicine & the effects of it.

They study and write tests on the basic information of skin cancer. The studies are focused on being able to help patients identify and prevent cancers of the skin.

Here are some of the ways pharmacists can help you prevent skin cancer.

Detailed Studies

Knowledge is power. Your chemist has a good understanding about the anatomy & physiology of your skin including:

  • The different layers of the skin.
  • Different skin types.
  • How cancer can affect each skin type differently.

This makes it easier for a pharmacist to identify different skin cancers or whether or not a mole needs to be examined by a doctor.

The Skin Cancer Alphabet

Many people know the ABCDs of malignant melanoma by now but some of us don’t. A pharmacist can often identify moles you might be worried about. Most pharmacies will have posters that can easily be seen by patients to remind you what to look out for.

The ABCD rule will help you be cautious of changes & how to identify those changes. Here’s a list of potentially dangerous signs when you look at moles:

  • Asymmetry: Make sure the asymmetry and shape stay the same & doesn’t change.
  • Border: The border must never be uneven; if it changes, see a healthcare professional immediately.
  • Color: A mole shouldn’t change color. If a mole turns black or becomes darker than before or if it turns red, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor.
  • Diameter: Make sure to check your mole often, so you’ll know if it grows bigger than 6mm. A mole shouldn’t grow bigger in size. This can potentially be a sign of skin cancer.

Sunscreen 101

There are literally hundreds of different sunscreen brands available. Selecting the correct one can be overwhelming & difficult.

Pharmacists will be able to assist you in what ingredients each sunscreen has & which one will be more suited for you.

Medicine & Cancer

Are you taking any medication regularly? Do you know if your medication causes photosensitivity?

Don’t feel bad if you’re not sure what the side effects of your medication might be. We don’t always know the ins and outs of the medication we take. But a pharmacist does!

If you’re not sure, ask your pharmacologist. He or she will be able to tell you exactly which meds you can safely take & which ones you’ll need to take extra care with when you’re exposed to sunlight.

The AAA Rule

We all need a reminder now and then on how to prevent skin cancer. Pharmacologists can provide you with up to date education on cancer and the prevention thereof.

A chemist generally follows the AAA rule when it comes to skin cancer:

  • Ask: Pharmacists are able to ask you relevant questions to determine whether or not you should be worried about your skin.
  • Advise: A pharmacist will be able to give you some guidelines to protect your skin against harmful sun exposure.
  • Assist: Pharmacists will be able to tell you if you need referral to a doctor or answer questions you might have about skin cancer.

MED Calculation

Do you know how to calculate your MED? Minimum Erythema Dose will be different from one person to the next. A pharmacist can calculate your personal MED & also show you how to do it for your family.

MED calculations are divided into six skin types & skin colors and give you the maximum minutes of sun exposure your skin can tolerate.


Seeing a doctor for regular check ups are important but it can be daunting. Sharing is caring and that’s really what your pharmacist wants to do. They can share valuable information and advice about skin cancer.

It’s not necessary to become just another number added to the statistics. Remember your skin is the largest organ in the body so take good care of it. Ask a professional for advice—ask you pharmacist.

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