Top 10 Myths About Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Myths

#1 Melanoma is Highly Deadly

Survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early (before the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes) is 98%

#2 I Don’t Need to Worry About One or Two Sunburns Each Summer

One or more blistering sunburns in childhood doubles the risk of developing melanoma.  Five or more sunburns at any age doubles a person’s risk of developing melanoma.

#3 I Won’t Get Melanoma Again If I Have Had It Once

Survivors of melanoma are 9 times more likely than the general population to develop a new melanoma. For melanoma survivors, a full body skin examination by a dermatologist is recommended every four months for the first 2 years after diagnosis, then every six months for the next two to three years, and then annually for the rest of their life

#4 Melanoma is a Disease of Old Men

 Although men over the 50 are at the highest risk for developing melanoma but until the age of 39 women are almost twice as likely to develop melanoma as men.  Starting at age 40 the incidence of melanoma is higher in men than women. It is the most common form of skin cancer in 25-29 year olds and the second most common form of skin cancer in 15-29 year olds.w

#5 It is Better to Get a Base Tan Before a Tropical Vacation

There is no safe tan.  A tan is the skin’s response to injury caused by UV exposure. Tanning occurs when UV rays penetrate the epidermis and cause mutations in the skin's DNA.  This causes the production of melanin (pigment) as a response to the injury. Chronic exposure to UV light (both natural or artificial) results in changes in skin texture, causing wrinkling and age spots in addition to skin cancer.  A base tan just exposes your skin to MORE damaging UV radiation.  The world health organization includes tanning beds in its Group 1 list of dangerous cancer causing things just like cigarettes and plutonium.  In fact, tanning bed users are 75% more likely to develop melanoma, 150% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma, and 250% more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma. 

#6 Children Do Not Get Skin Cancer

Melanoma is rare in children, but the incidence is increasing. 90% of pediatric melanoma cases are in girls aged 10-19.

#7 People With Darker Skin Types Do Not Get Skin Cancer

While less common overall, skin cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage and with a worse prognosis.  Whereas basal cell carcinoma is most common in Caucasian, Hispanics, Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian populations, squamous cell carcinomas are most common in African American and Asian Indians.  Also, melanomas of African Americans, Asians, Filipinos, Indonesians and native Hawaiians are often on non-exposed skin with less pigment.  In fact, up to 60-75% arise on palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.

#8 Once The Damage is Done There is Nothing I Can Do

Statistically, only 23% of lifetime sun exposure occurs before age 18. It is never too late to start practicing safe sun habits.  Seek shade, wear protective clothing, apply broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher generously and often.  Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen (use about an ounce each time).  Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand. Avoid tanning beds.  Check your own skin.  If you spot anything changing, itching, bleeding see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.  Educate yourself at

#9 I’m Safe From Sun Damage When Behind Windows

Although UV-B does not pass through windows,  UV-A does.   UVA is considered the aging sun ray responsible for wrinkles, age spots but also can lead to skin cancer.

#10 Oral Vitamin D Will Protect Me Against Skin Cancer

The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine concludes that while evidence links a person's Vitamin D level to bone health, evidence linking it to other health benefits is inconclusive and insufficient. 


Sign-up HERE for our newsletter to receive access to expert skin care advice from founder and dermatologist Dr. Heather D. Rogers, MD.


The information provided by Dr. Rogers is general health information inspired by this topic. The information in the Doctor Rogers web site, and related links, articles, newsletters and blogs, is provided for general information and educational purposes only. It should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem (and is not an extension of the care Dr. Rogers has provided in her office for existing patients of her practice). Use the information and products on this site at your own risk. Use of this site indicates your agreement with these statements and the Terms and Conditions of If you do not agree to all of these Terms and Conditions of use, please do not use this site!  Never ignore your own doctor’s advice because of something you read here; this information is for general informational purposes only.  There is no doctor patient relationship implied.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.