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Medical Mythbusters #2 – Skin Cancer Edition

Written by Courteney

Posted on June 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm


We recently started a Medical Mythbuster feature (check out Mythbusters #1 if you didn’t catch it), so here is our second edition on skin cancer myths and facts. Check out these common skin cancer beliefs and try to guess from the title if they are true or false before reading further. Let’s see how many you get right!

Skin cancer is caused solely by UV damage from the sun or an alternative light source.

 

MYTH. Less frequently, skin cancer also develops on areas of the body that have not been exposed to harmful ultraviolet rays. These spots of cancer may be explained by environmental hazards, radiation and genetic predispositions, skin complexion, an abundance of problematic moles or a combination thereof.

Only fair skinned people develop skin cancer.

 

MYTH. While skin cancer afflicts people with very fair skin much more frequently (approximately 40-50% of very fair-skinned people will have at least one cancer spot in their lifetime), it can still strike people of all skin types. Unfortunately, when people with darker skin get skin cancer, the symptoms are not as evident until the disease has progressed, so it is important for everyone to periodically check their skin for changes no matter that skin type they have.

Only one type of UV ray is dangerous.

 

MYTH. UVA rays infiltrate the dermis (deeper layer of the skin) leading to signs of aging and wrinkles over time as well as immune system problems (which can help indirectly contribute to illnesses like cancer), while UVB rays are responsible for burning the epidermis which can lead more directly to skin cancer.

You can get skin cancer in the winter.


FACT. Believe it or not, you are not immune to the sun’s nasty consequences just because it there is ice and snow around. The sun can shine just as brightly in the winter as in the summer. Because people let their guard down and don’t don sunscreen while outside in the winter, it can sneakily lead to the development of skin cancer. It is important to wear sunscreen on exposed skin year-round while spending time outside (especially important for those who snowboard or do outdoor activities frequently). Similarly, overcast days can be just as dangerous as sunny days. People take less precautions, but the clouds do not protect you from the sun’s hidden wrath. So wear sunscreen all the time – better safe than very, very sorry!

You can get skin cancer on your lips too.

 

FACT. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “The lips are a not uncommon, but often overlooked site for nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC), including the two most common skin cancers, basal and squamous cell carcinoma (BCC and SCC). Most frequently occurring in fair-skinned males over the age of 50, cancer of the lip comprises approximately 0.6 percent of all cancers in the US.” So be sure to protect your lips as well (you can buy various types of invisible SPF lip balm).

Skin Cancer is rare.

 

MYTH. It is the most common form of cancer in the United States. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime, the vast majority of these cases will have been caused by UV light overexposure.

Base tans are actually dangerous, not beneficial.

 

FACT. Base tans are definitely more dangerous than people give them credit for. Most people think they are doing themselves a service by pre-tanning before vacationing, however any color from the sun is actually doing varying degrees of damage and may be setting the stage for future issues such as skin cancer. Especially if you are doing so in a tanning bed. They have proven to be just as dangerous as the sun, if not more so.

Well that concludes our Medical Mythbusters #2 – Skin Cancer feature! How did you do? Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions or concerns about skin cancer or sun damage, don’t hesitate to sign up to speak to one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians via video chat today!

 

 

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