Common Myths About Skin Cancer

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People who rarely sunburn will not get cancer.

Sunburns are not the only sign of damage to the skin. Any change in color of the skin due to sun exposure, even just a tan, is a sign of damage. Sunburns cause more damage to the skin when they occur, but tanning without getting a sunburn also increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

Dark-skinned individuals are not a risk for sun damage.

Although light-skinned individuals are at a greater risk for developing skin cancer, dark-skinned individuals who spend time in the sun are also at risk. Simply having darker skin is not appropriate protection from the sun. Dark-skinned individuals should still take precautions to avoid excessive sun exposure and receive skin exams regularly to detect any abnormalities as early as possible. Skin cancer can be even more dangerous for dark-skinned individuals because often, it is not noticed until it has progressed to a later, more serious stage.

You don’t need sunscreen on a cloudy day.

UV rays given off by the sun can still cause damage to the skin on cloudy days. 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds. You should be cautious and properly protect yourself against the sun if you are spending time outside on an overcast day.

A tanning bed is safer than UV rays from the sun.

Tanning beds deliver concentrated forms of the UV rays given off by the sun, so even spending a short amount of time in a tanning bed equates to spending a significant amount of time in the sun. These short periods of exposure damage the skin by producing a tan or sunburn. Many dermatologists highly discourage the use of tanning beds because studies have found a strong link between their use and the development of skin cancer.

You can’t get skin cancer if you don’t have moles already.

A common symptom of skin cancer is the changing of shape or color of preexisting freckles or moles. However, another symptom of skin cancer is the appearance of new freckles, moles, or abnormal spots on the skin. Although individuals with moles have a higher chance of developing skin cancer, moles do not have to be preexisting for the spot of skin to become cancerous.

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