Women Veterans Health Care
Skin Cancer Prevention
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer* is the leading form of cancer in the United States.
The skin is the body's largest organ and has several layers, each with different types of cells that may lead to different types of skin cancers. The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell cancers. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer but is far less common.
Basal and squamous cell cancers can usually be cured, but they often lead to scarring. Melanoma causes the most skin cancer deaths, as it can spread to other parts of the body including the internal organs.
Most cases of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, tanning beds, or sunlamps. Veterans may be at higher risk for skin cancers depending on their level of exposure to the sun and their role in the military.
What services does VA provide for skin cancer?
VA provides skin cancer care on site or through a health care facility in the community. Your VA primary care provider can examine your skin as a part of your routine health care and can refer you to specialty care with a dermatologist when needed. If caught early, skin cancers can be treated successfully. Your provider can check for lesions with warning signs of melanoma and other skin conditions such as:
- Asymmetry: One-half of the mole looks different from the other
- Border: Irregular or scalloped border
- Color: Multiple colors such as reds, light browns, and very dark areas
- Diameter: Greater than 6 mm (size of a pencil eraser)
- Evolving: Any mole that is changing in size, shape, or color
How do I access services for skin cancer at VA?
If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also help you with issues such as:
- Enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
- Setting up a medical appointment in your area
- Answering questions about eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans
WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.
If you don't already use VA health care, you can also use the following online tools:
- Find out if you are eligible for VA health care.
- Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already.
- Find your local VA to learn about what services may be available and to make an appointment.
Can I get disability compensation (monthly payments) or other benefits from VA related to skin cancer?
Explore disability eligibility here. If you have questions, a Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) representative at your nearest regional office can explain more. Find your nearest regional office.
Where can I find more information, help, and resources on skin cancer?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Skin Cancer*
- Tips to lower your risk for skin cancer*
- The Skin Cancer Foundation*
- American Academy of Dermatology Sunscreen Resource Center*
- VA skin cancer research
* By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked Web site.