Debunking 5 Common Skin Cancer Myths


Medically Reviewed by Dr. Lee Hwee Chyen

MBBS MRCP (UK) FAMS (Dermatology)

Debunking 5 Common Skin Cancer Myths

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is primarily categorized into three main types: Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), most commonly found in sun-exposed areas, Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), less common but more aggressive than BCC, as well as Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer that originates from melanocytes.

Always consult a trusted dermatologist if you have any concerns about skin cancer.

Myth 1: Skin Cancer Is Always Visible and Easy to Detect

While some skin cancers are indeed noticeable, others may be more challenging to identify, especially in their early stages. For instance, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) often develop in sun-exposed areas, making them more visible. However, melanoma, a more aggressive form of skin cancer, can develop in less visible areas like the scalp, soles of the feet, or beneath the nails.

Skin cancer can appear in various forms, and its early signs might be subtle. Early detection often requires regular self-examinations and professional screenings. Any new, changing, or unusual skin growths or moles should be evaluated by a dermatologist, who can diagnose these growths and provide proper treatment plans if needed.

Myth 2: Sunscreen Eliminates the Risk Of Skin Cancer

While sunscreen helps in reducing the risk of skin cancer, it does not eliminate it. The efficacy of sunscreen depends on various factors, including its SPF rating, frequency of application, and proper usage. Sunscreens should be part of a broader sun protection strategy that includes seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding sun exposure during peak hours.

Myth 3: Skin Cancer Only Affects Older Adults


Another misconception is that skin cancer affects only older adults. In reality, skin cancer can affect people of all ages. Factors such as cumulative sun exposure, use of tanning beds, and genetic predispositions contribute to the risk of developing skin cancer, regardless of age. Young adults, and even children, are not immune. The risk of developing skin cancer increases with age due to accumulated sun exposure over time.

Myth 4: Tanning Beds Are a Safer Alternative to Sun Exposure

Tanning beds are often mistakenly considered a safer alternative to sunbathing. However, they emit UVA and UVB rays, which can damage the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer. The World Health Organization classifies tanning beds as carcinogenic to humans. Therefore, tanning beds are equally as dangerous to skin health as sun exposure.

Myth 5: Only Moles Can Turn Into Melanoma

While many melanomas develop from existing moles, they can also arise on normal-looking skin. Monitor not only moles but also any new skin changes or growths, regardless of their initial appearance.

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