Debunking the Myths of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, affecting one in every five people every year. However, it can also be one of the most treatable forms of cancer, particularly when it is caught early. This is why it is so important for everyone to familiarize themselves with general information about this disease, and learn how to separate the facts from the fiction when it comes to skin cancer. Of course, the best person to answer any of your questions or concerns about cancer is your doctor. But you can arm yourself with some basic information that will help you to reduce your risks of this type of disease.

Skin Cancer, Skin Tones and Sun Exposure

One of the first and easiest things that you can do to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to protect your skin from the UV rays of the sun. But first you need to understand the facts about sun exposure. First, exposure to these rays can occur even on cloudy days. Second, UV rays can penetrate clothing, especially garments that are light-colored and made of lightweight fabric - like the type of clothing that is typically worn in warmer weather when the sun's rays are brightest. Finally, dangerous UV exposure can also occur when sunlight reflects off of the snow or shines through glass windows, like in your car.

Some people think that if they head to a tanning salon to catch that golden glow, they are somehow safer from the risks of skin cancer. Not so. The lights in the tanning booths emit the same type of UV rays that the sun does. This means that use of tanning booths can indeed increase your risk of skin cancer. In fact, spending time at these tanning salons prior to the age of 35 can increase your chances of being diagnosed with this type of cancer by as much as 75%. This statistic alone should be a good reason to greatly limit the amount of time you spend under tanning lights, or make you bid farewell to tanning salons completely.

It is also a common belief that people with darker skin tones cannot get skin cancer. While it is absolutely true that having fair skin can greatly increase your risk for this disease, darker skin tones can have problems as well. The big problem arises when people with these skin tones do not bother to protect their skin from the sun's rays or head to their doctor for early skin cancer screenings. The later skin cancer is detected, the harder it is to treat, meaning that people with these skin tones may not get cancer as often, but when they do it is usually found in the more advanced stages.

While skin cancer can be a scary diagnosis, you cna reduce your risk. Reducing your sun exposure is a good first step. You should also go in for annual skin screenings with your doctor, since early detection is a key in an effective treatment plan. Skin cancer happens, but you can take steps to keep your skin safer.