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Debunking the 5 Most Common Skin Cancer Myths

Debunking the 5 Most Common Skin Cancer Myths


8 minute read

Every year, more than 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States, making it the most common cancer both in the U.S. and around the world. Skin cancer can affect anyone at any time, but some types of skin cancer, like melanoma, are actually found more prevalently among men. Unfortunately, many men still are not aware of their risk of skin cancer and might even believe the common skin cancer myths that float around about what skin cancer is and how people get it. Below, we have identified five very prevalent skin cancer myths and why they are false! Most importantly, we have identified the important truths that can help protect you from being one of the millions affected by skin cancer each year. 

Myth #1 - I can only get skin cancer in places where I've gotten a lot of sun

The Truth: Skin Cancer can occur anywhere on the body

Similar to other forms of cancer, skin cancer is the result of damaged or changed genes that eventually cause cells to grow uncontrollably and invade other tissues. Though this is mostly caused by sun damage and the UVA and UVB rays that the sun emits, you can also end up with skin cancer in places where your body rarely gets sun, like under your fingernails and toenails, your palms, the bottoms of your feet, and even around the genital area.

Melanoma is particularly known for occurring in areas you might not have originally associated as prone to skin cancer, and for that reason it’s important to know how to keep an eye out for discolorations in your skin, new moles, or other signs of developing skin cancer. However, even basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas can occur in unexpected places, though melanoma is the most common culprit in less sun-exposed areas — and the most dangerous. Skin cancer is most treatable when detected early, so don’t believe the lie that you only need to keep a lookout on the most sun-exposed areas of your body. 

Myth #2 - Skin cancer can always be cured

The Truth: Though most forms of skin cancer are highly treatable, especially when detected early, other types can be deadly when left to spread

Another common skin cancer myth is that it can always be cured, and therefore warrants less caution when it comes to prevention and detection. Of course, skin canceris highly treatable, especially when detected early, but there are cases where it has been detected too late or has become too serious and can result in death. Melanoma, particularly, is not treatable in more advanced  cases. In 2021, over 7,000 people are expected to die from melanoma, of which well over half will be men. 

Though we have developed many effective methods of treating and monitoring skin cancer that have reduced the risk it poses to your long term health and well-being, skin health is certainly nothing to be lackadaisical about. Being diagnosed with multiple types or spots of skin cancer can even increase your risk of developing other, unrelated types of cancer. And while some skin cancer treatments are easier and less invasive, others can involve more serious surgery, result in unsightly scarring, and even require radiation or chemotherapy.

We aren’t saying all of this to scare you! It is just important to know thatnocancer is good cancer, and prevention and a commitment to your skin health are very important ways to avoid the complications of skin cancer — even the types that are highly treatable.

Myth #3 - I won't get skin cancer until I'm at least 60

The Truth: Men and women of all ages can develop skin cancer

Believe it or not, Melanoma is the most common cancer in young adults that are in the 25-29 age range. Unfortunately, it's also now increasing faster in women ages 15-29 than males in the same age group. 

If you always imagined you wouldn’t be at risk for skin cancer until you were much older, you aren’t alone. This is a very common skin cancer myth! That is why it's so important that people understand that it's simply untrue. At any age, it is incredibly vital that you check your skin, and always stay alert to changes in the shape, size, number, and color of sores or spots that lay on your skin -especially those that do not heal. 

It is also why, at every age, sun protection in the forms of sunscreen, clothing, sunglasses, and shade are absolutely essential. While you are investing in the skin you will have at age 60 and beyond (the sun is the #1 cause of aging), you are also protecting your skin now and preventing development of the skin cancers that occur in younger men and women. 

MYTH #4 - Skin cancer is only a problem for people with fair skin, but not dark skin

The Truth: People of any skin type and color can develop skin cancer

Contrary to popular belief, everyone is at risk of any type of skin cancer, although cases are most frequent in people who have a fairer skin tone. People who have fair skin, especially those with freckles, blue or green eyes, and blonde, red, or light brown hair, may be at increased risk, but those who have darker skin, hair, or eyes are certainly not immune to skin cancer. 

If you have darker skin or have found you are less likely to get sunburned, you might feel as if you can coast through the skin protection methods your dermatologist and other health experts have recommended. Well, you would be wrong! UV radiation is damaging and harmful to all skin types, of any color. And in fact, skin cancer in those with darker skin tones can be harder to spot, and therefore harder to detect early and treat! 

Every single person should be aware of signs/symptoms of skin cancer and take the necessary precautions to protect both their skin and eyes from overexposure to the sun. So even if you are the person who boasts about their ability to tan quickly and easily without getting burnt, it is important that you lather on the sunscreen all the same. (Don’t forget — anytime your skin is darkening from the sun, like when you tan, it is always a form of cell damage and the result of harmful rays from the sun!)

Myth #5: If you use sunscreen, you won't get skin cancer

The Truth: Sunscreen cannot prevent all risks of skin cancer

Dark skin man getting a skin health checkup for preventing Cancer

One of the most common myths of skin cancer is that wearing sunscreen reduces your risk of development to zero. While sunscreen does dramatically increase your chances of delaying or avoiding skin cancer altogether, and you willneverfind us minimizing its importance and benefits, it doesn't completely neutralize your risk of skin cancer.

The truth is that the likelihood that you would be able to take every necessary precaution, reapply sunscreen every two hours, every day of your life, andnever expose yourself to anything that could trigger sun-related cell damage, is basically zero. Which means, unfortunately, that you should never assume that you are not at risk for skin cancer! However, you can enormously reduce your risk of skin cancer through the actions you take to preserve your skin health and protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVB and UVA rays, day in and day out. As we’ve said before, you should always wear sunscreen that is at least SPF 30, broad-spectrum, and water-resistant, seek shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. when the UV intensity peaks, and wear UV-protective clothing like broad-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and SPF labeled long-sleeved t-shirts. And of course, be educated on the signs and symptoms of skin cancer, and when you need to see a dermatologist to get checked out. 

Final Thoughts

 

Hopefully you are now firmly in the camp of understanding that skin cancer is a common and serious issue in the modern world. The five skin cancer myths we've debunked today are just a few examples of how skin cancer can be misunderstood and misdiagnosed by patients, their loved ones, and even medical professionals. You may not realize this, but our team at Get Mr. has been working hard to provide comprehensive information about skin health for years now, and “The Journal” is a great way to find dermatologist-written material on an expansive variety of skin health and skin cancer topics. We have also created Get Mr. The Daily -a moisturizer, aftershave, and SPF made for men, a product made with premium ingredients like niacinamide plus added broad-spectrum sun protection to help prevent aging & UV damage. If you’ve finished this post and realized you don’t have a daily sunscreen on your counter that you religiously apply, we hope you will give it a shot! It’s one of the most important investments you can make in your current and future skin health. Start your free trial with Get Mr. today.

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