Shining a Light on Skin Cancer: 6 Facts You Need to Know

July 2019

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s also highly treatable if caught early. These six facts can help you improve your sun smarts and decrease your risk.

1. People of all ages can get skin cancer.

A study from Archives of Dermatology finds that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. Those at increased risk include fair-skinned people over the age of 50, according to The American Society of Clinical Oncology. A family history of skin cancer and spending lots of time in the sun also contribute.

2. There is no such thing as a “base” tan.

The CDC warns that any tan indicates skin damage from UV exposure and increases the chances of melanoma.

3. One indoor tanning session may boost melanoma risk by 20 percent.

Tanning beds also increase the odds of squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

4. Some medications can lead to sun sensitivity.

The FDA notes that antibiotics, antihistamines, cholesterol lowering drugs and retinoids are among the commonly-prescribed drugs that may cause photosensitivity.

5. Skin cancer can occur “down there.”

A type of skin cancer known as Bowenoid papulosis can occur in the pubic or genital area in men and women.

6. Skin cancer is highly treatable if caught early.

The American Cancer Society finds that the five-year relative survival rate for people first diagnosed with localized melanoma (Stages 0, 1 and 2) is 98 percent.

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