Skin Diseases

9 myths about skin cancer: common misconceptions that should not be believed


  • Sunlight . Sunlight is a source of ultraviolet radiation. Exposure to sunlight causes skin damage that can lead to cancer. Pay attention to:
    • Sunburn. People who have suffered severe sunburn are at risk of disease.
    • Total time in the sun.
    • Tan. The more a person is in the sun, the greater the risk of developing oncology.

    When taking precautions, some properties of sunlight should be considered. It is reflected from sand, water, snow, ice and sidewalks. The sun's rays pass through clouds, glass, windows and light clothing. In the United States, for example, skin carcinoma is more likely to occur where sun exposure is stronger (there are more cancers in Texas than in Minnesota). In addition, the effect of solar radiation is stronger at higher elevations.

  • Solarium Artificial UV sources lead to skin damage and cancer. Doctors strongly recommend, especially at a young age, to avoid the use of ultraviolet lamps and a solarium. Recently, cases of the development of oncology due to the use of tanning beds under the age of 30 years have become more frequent.
  • The presence of skin cancer in the past. People who have had skin carcinoma are at risk because of a possible relapse.
  • Genetic predisposition. If someone close has suffered cancer, then all family members are at risk.
  • Bright skin . The presence of fair skin, which easily burns in the sun, blue or gray eyes, red or blond hair, a large number of freckles increases the risk of developing malignant skin tumors.
  • Taking medications. Antibiotics, hormones, antidepressants make the skin more sensitive. They also suppress the immune system. All this affects the body and can lead to RK.

Melanoma Risk Factors

  • Dysplastic nevus. This is a mole-like stain. But it is more than an ordinary mole, differs in color, the nature of the surface. It looks larger than peas and may be larger than peanuts. It comes in different shades: from pink to dark brown. As a rule, it has a smooth, slightly scaly surface. Nevus has uneven edges, slightly ingrown into the skin.
    Dysplastic nevi more often than usual moles are malignant. However, most of them do not turn into melanoma. Nevi that are characterized by malignancy are subject to surgical excision with histological analysis.
  • Over 50 common moles. The mole is smaller than a pea in size, pink, brown, yellow. Round or oval in shape with a smooth surface. The presence of a large number of such moles also increases the risk of developing oncology.

Risk Factors for Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Old scars, burns, ulcers, or sore spots on the skin.
  • The effects of arsenic.
  • Passage of exposure.

Risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma:

  • Actinic keratosis. Actinic keratosis is a flat, scaly growth on the skin. It is more common in places exposed to the sun, especially on the face and back of the hands. The growth has the form of a rough red or brown spot on the skin. Also appears on the lower lip as crackles that do not heal. If you do not consult a doctor in time, this scaly outgrowth can develop into squamous RK.
  • Human papillomavirus. Certain types of HPV infect the skin and increase the risk of developing squamous RK. These types of HPV are different from HPV, which cause cervical cancer and other genital cancers in women and men.

Skin cancer only threatens older people

About 50-70 years ago, this statement reflected the real situation, but since then skin cancer has become very “younger”. Now it takes the first place among the oncological diseases that are diagnosed in people 26-30 years old, and the second place among the malignant neoplasms that are observed in boys and girls aged 15 to 25 years.

Some experts believe that the prevalence of skin cancer among young people is affected by such factors as increased availability of travel to hot countries, including for the purpose of beach holidays. On such trips, people whose organism is not genetically programmed for such loads receive a huge amount of ultraviolet radiation, which, in combination with sea water, which dries the skin, becomes the main risk factor for tumor development.

Artificial insolation is safer for the skin than sunlight.

This extremely dangerous misconception can also be the cause of an increase in the incidence of skin cancer among young people. The fact is that, in contrast to natural insolation, the effect created by artificial plants, for 98% consists of a spectrum of UV rays dangerous to the skin. Lovers of tanning salons who receive artificial sunbaths regularly are especially at risk. It is proved that such procedures, performed once a month for ten years, increase the likelihood of skin cancer by 50%. Even a single visit to the tanning bed can be dangerous if a person has other risk factors.

Skin cancer is incurable

This is not true. Like most oncological diseases, the likelihood of cure for skin cancer is directly dependent on how quickly treatment is started. Melanomas and basal cell carcinomas diagnosed at an early stage are completely eliminated in 98% of cases. In relation to the formations diagnosed at later stages of development, the probability of cure is reduced to 70-75%, which, however, is also a rather high indicator.

Melanoma is necessarily accompanied by a modification of moles

In four out of five cases, melanoma does not occur from degenerated moles, but in areas of the skin that are free of them. Nevertheless, it is believed that the presence of a large number of nevi doubles the risk of developing malignant neoplasms of the skin. Therefore, people with this feature should periodically inspect their moles, revealing changes in their size, shape, color, surface character and other parameters.

To avoid trouble, you should regularly visit a dermatologist. It is very important that the patient belonging to the risk group is constantly monitored by the same doctor. Frequent change of doctors can lead to the fact that changes in nevi remain unnoticed.

Sunscreens provoke the development of melanoma

A means of protection from solar insolation should be selected correctly. It should match the skin phototype and not invoke allergic reactions. However, not even a very good choice of cream does not carry the risk of developing skin cancer. Of course, we are not talking about dubious means, in which unscrupulous manufacturers often include chemicals hazardous to health (including those that do not have state certification). Sunscreens purchased from trusted suppliers are usually harmless.

Another important aspect of UV protection is the proper use of cosmetics. It must be remembered that no sunscreen lasts longer than two hours, while it blocks up to 90% of radiation that is harmful to the skin. That's why you should not count on reliable protection throughout the day if you apply the cream on the skin once in the morning.

People who never sunbathe do not get skin cancer

The body's ability to produce dark pigment, which protects against insolation, is developed in humans to varying degrees. Those whose skin has a lighter shade, the risk of sunburn is very high, which really increases the likelihood of developing malignant neoplasms in the future. However, the presence of dark skin, which does not burn, does not guarantee that a person will never get cancer. In each country, diseases of this type are diagnosed in people belonging to almost all ethnic groups.

Laser removal of moles is preferable to surgical

We have already said that only moles that a dermatologist considered suspicious should be removed. Laser surgery in this case has only one plus: after it there are no cosmetic defects. From the point of view of maintaining health, laser removal of the nevus can be not only useless, but also dangerous, since it completely eliminates the possibility of tissue collection for subsequent examination. This means that it will no longer be possible to determine whether the removed mole has undergone rebirth, and the person will not receive the necessary treatment on time.

According to the recommendations of WHO specialists, any nevus that is removed on suspicion of pathological changes should be excised surgically, followed by transfer of the material to a histological laboratory.

Skin cancer is considered one of the oncological diseases that are most easily prevented. It is enough that the first signs of the disease can be seen visually. Suspicious education is easily and quickly removed, and histological examination allows you to immediately draw a final conclusion about its nature and prescribe adequate treatment. In addition, much depends on the person himself: the effect of most risk factors can be minimized. You only need to behave competently (use protective equipment, not get carried away by sunbathing, avoid contact with hazardous chemicals, etc.), as well as be regularly examined and follow the advice of a dermatologist. This will help reduce the likelihood of developing an ailment, and in case of its appearance - to be cured.

Risk factors

The following types of skin cancers are usually referred to as skin cancer:

Type of cancerDescriptionIllustration
Basal cell carcinoma Pay attention to pearly translucency to a fleshy color, tiny blood vessels on the surface and sometimes ulceration, which can be characteristic features. A key feature is translucency.
Squamous cell carcinomaIt is usually a red, cortical or scaly spot or bulge. Often a very rapidly growing tumor.

Melanoma General view: asymmetric, with a fuzzy border, color variation and often with a diameter of more than 6 mm.

Melanoma is often excluded from the list of diseases identified with skin cancer.

Risk Factors [edit |