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Skin Cancer Facts and Myths, Test Your Knowledge

Posted on: July 14th, 2022 by Dr. Christopher Crosby

Our dermatologists and skin cancer specialists in La Mesa hear many misconceptions about melanoma and other types of skin cancer. At Grossmont Dermatology Medical Clinic and Skin Cancer Treatment Center, we believe patient education is vital to diagnosing and treating common skin conditions and cancer. See how much you know about skin cancer with these facts and myths.

Myth: Skin Cancer is Not Dangerous

Downplaying the severity of melanoma can be harmful and lead to people delaying a skin evaluation for a suspicious growth or mole. While skin cancer is highly treatable, it is still deadly. The American Cancer Society reports that an estimated 7,650 people will die in 2022 of melanoma, and these skin cancer rates have risen in the last couple of decades.

Our dermatologists recommend a whole-body skin examination once a year and scheduling an appointment any time you have an abnormally shaped mole or other visible symptoms.

Fact: Five or More Sunburns in Your Life Doubles Melanoma Risk

2016 study found that people who experienced five or more sunburns over the course of their life were twice as likely to develop melanoma. Previous research found that one blistering sunburn in childhood or the teenage years more than doubles melanoma risk later in life. This may be surprising to many people and highlights the importance of using sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 whenever you’re outside for longer than 15 minutes.

Myth: Melanoma is for Older Adults and is Rare

The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 100,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2022, joining the more than 1 million already living with skin cancer. While many of these patients are older, people of all ages can develop melanoma, and this skin cancer is the most common type among young adults, particularly women. Skin cancer in children under 20 is rare, with around 400 cases each year. However, children are more likely to be misdiagnosed with pigmented lesions, leading to delayed cancer treatment, according to a 2005 study.

Fact: The Survival Rate for Melanoma is 99%

A 2022 cancer facts and figures document for skin cancer by the American Cancer Society reports that melanoma has a 99 percent survivor rate after five years when detected early. This percentage goes down to 93 percent when all melanoma stages are included and decreases to 68 percent and 30 percent when cancer reaches the lymph nodes or metastasizes in distant organs, respectively. However, the five-year melanoma survival rate for Black patients is only 71 percent. A related myth is that melanoma doesn’t affect darker skin tones, but that myth often leads to a delayed diagnosis and more severe cases of melanoma, lowering survivability.

If you’re concerned about your skin health or have a new or abnormal mole, contact our dermatologists and skin cancer specialists at Grossmont Dermatology Medical Clinic and Skin Cancer Treatment Center. Schedule an appointment by calling (619) 462-1670 or filling out our online contact form.

Coastal Skin & Eye Institute/Grossmont Dermatology