Wellness

4 False Facts about Skin Cancer You Should Know

May 12 • 2016

Did you know skin cancer is the most common of all cancers? Melanoma is the most dangerous, causing the majority of skin cancer deaths. May is Melanoma Awareness Month, so we debunked four of the most common myths surrounding this disease.

Myth #1: I’ll only get skin cancer if I’m exposed to the sun too much.
Sun exposure is the most common cause of skin cancer, but it is not the only cause. In fact, there are a variety of other skin cancer risk factors many people don’t realize, including:

  • Age
  • Skin color
  • Number of moles
  • Personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Genetics
  • UV exposure from tanning beds or occupational equipment

Myth #2: Large, dark spots are all I have to worry about.
Many people connect melanoma with large, dark spots on the skin. However, people with fair skin who experience sunburn easily can notice moles of a variety of colors and sizes. Variation is the more important characteristic to look for, such as a mole that is more than one color or has suddenly changed in size or shape.

Myth #3: If I’m tan or dark-skinned I’m not at risk.
While melanoma is more common in people with fair skin, any race is at risk for skin cancer. In fact, the death rate among African Americans with melanoma is higher, likely because they do not realize they have it or do not think they can get it. Even if you are tan during the summer, your skin is not protected from the UV rays. Instead, tanning can lead to genetic issues that can cause skin cancer later down the line.

Myth #4: Skin cancer can be easily removed, so it’s not that dangerous.
While it is true that some skin cancers can be removed or cut out, it doesn’t mean that melanoma is not serious. It becomes especially serious if it spreads to the lymph nodes or other parts of your body. This is why it is extremely important to see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice an unusual mole or spot on your skin.

Don’t allow yourself to fall for these common misconceptions about melanoma. Make sure you take the necessary steps to protect your skin while you’re in the sun, keep an eye out for any unfamiliar changes, and make an appointment with your doctor if anything seems suspicious.