- The best way to prevent skin cancer, including melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – is to limit exposure to the sun.
True – While limiting sun exposure is the best way to prevent skin cancer, you can have fun in the sun and decrease your risk of skin cancer by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher every day.
- Getting a base tan is a healthy way to protect my skin from sun damage.
False – There is no such thing as a safe tan. A tan is a sign of damage to your skin. As this damage builds, it can lead to wrinkles, age spots and even skin cancer. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
- When shopping for sunscreen, a product with SPF 30 provides twice the protection as an SPF 15.
False. An SPF – Sun Protection Factor- of 30 does not offer twice as much protection as an SPF 15 sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of the sun’s rays. SPFs higher than 30 block slightly more of the sun’s rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s rays. All SPFs last the same amount of time and should be reapplied approximately every two hours and after swimming and sweating.
- I should apply sunscreen every day, even when it’s cloudy or cold outside
True. The sun emits harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays year round. Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin. That’s why it’s so important to apply sunscreen every day. Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
- Skin cancer can be easily treated when caught early.
True. The most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, can be cured if caught early and properly treated. When melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is detected before it spreads, it also has a high cure rate.Unlike other cancers, most skin cancers can be seen on the surface of the skin. That’s why it’s important to learn how to perform a skin self-exam and regularly check your skin for anything that is changing, itching or bleeding.
- When checking my skin for skin cancer, I should only look for new moles or spots.
False. Anything changing, itching or bleeding on your skin – whether it’s an existing mole or something new – could be a sign of skin cancer.If you see anything suspicious on your skin, make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist immediately.
- When checking my skin, I need to look over my entire body, even parts of my body that do not get regular sun exposure, like the soles of my feet.
True. Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, even places where the sun doesn’t shine. This can include the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, inside the mouth or nose, and on the genitals.
- Only fair-skinned people have to be concerned about skin cancer.
False. Everyone is at risk for skin cancer. When detected early, skin cancer is highly treatable. However, skin cancer in people of color is often diagnosed at a more advanced stage, which can make it more difficult to treat. Skin cancer in people of color is most often found on areas of the body that are not typically exposed to the sun. For example, the bottom of the foot is where 30 to 40 percent of melanomas are diagnosed in people of color.