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5 Facts About Skin Cancer That Might Surprise You

Educating yourself about skin cancer is essential.

While talking about skin care can be a fun and informative form of self care, having a solid awareness about skin cancer takes self care to another level. To put it simply, taking care of your skin and understanding skin cancer risk factors can save your life. That’s why, in addition to having  fun conversations about how to get glowing skin, and what products are best for your skin type, it’s also important to take a moment to explore the risks surrounding skin cancer. Keep reading to learn five facts about skin cancer that might surprise you一because the more you know, the more likely you’ll be able to preserve your health. 

1. Skin Cancer Is The Most Common Form Of Cancer In The U.S. 

We’re constantly stressing how important it is to protect your skin from harmful UV rays by applying sunscreen daily, and for good reason. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation found that more people in the United States  are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined. Research shows that about 20 percent of Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and around twenty Americans die from skin cancer each day. The probability of developing skin cancer is significant, so we’ll never tire of saying how important it is to protect yourself by limiting your sun exposure, never using tanning beds, and being diligent about applying SPF daily, year-round. 

2. Melanoma Is The Least Common Form Of Skin Cancer 

When speaking about skin cancer, the term melanoma is widely used. So, you might be surprised to learn that melanoma is actually the least common type of skin cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin — the pigment that gives your skin its color. This type of skin cancer is often detected through a change in appearance of an existing mole, or the development of new pigment or unusual skin growth. While it’s incredibly important to look out for signs of melanoma, the risk of developing nonmelanoma skin cancer is higher. 

According to the AAD, various types of skin cancer fall within the broader umbrella of nonmelanoma skin cancer, with the most common types being basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cells — a type of cell within the skin that produces new skin cells as old ones die off, the AAD explains. It often appears on the skin as a growth or sore that won't heal, and most commonly occurs in areas that have had long term sun exposure. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is a common form of skin cancer that develops in the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin, the AAD states. Most incidents of this form of cancer occur as a result of excessive UV radiation from sunlight or tanning beds, and can appear as red nodules, scaly patches, or new sores. 

3. Childhood Sunburns Can Significantly Increase Your Risk Of Developing Skin Cancer Later In Life 

According to the AAD, experiencing five or more extreme sunburns between ages 15 and 20 increases one’s melanoma risk by 80 percent and non-melanoma skin cancer risk by 68 percent. While you cannot go back in time and erase the sun damage you might have experienced in the past, you can adopt better skin care habits by applying SPF of 30 or greater  daily to prevent further sun damage. If you have children or young loved ones, be sure to inform them of the damaging effects of the sun so that they can protect their skin as soon as possible. 

4. Patients Of Color Are Less Likely To Survive Melanoma Than White Patients 

While the AAD states that the occurrence of skin cancer among non-Hispanic white individuals is almost 30 times higher than that among non-Hispanic Black individuals or Asian/Pacific Islanders, research shows that people of color who get melanoma are less likely to survive than Caucasians who get it. The thought behind this is that skin cancer in people of color is often diagnosed late, making it much harder to treat. The perception that people of color cannot or will not develop skin cancer is not only false, but it’s detrimental. Everyone is at risk of getting skin cancer and such perceptions can lead to late diagnoses and potentially life threatening cancer. 

5. More People Develop Skin Cancer Because Of Indoor Tanning Than Develop Lung Cancer From Smoking 

You’re more than likely aware that tanning beds are not healthy, but you might be surprised to learn just how dangerous they really are. Smoking is heavily linked with developing lung cancer, yet the correlation of indoor tanning and developing skin cancer is even higher, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The Skin Cancer Foundation also states that UV radiation is a proven human carcinogen, and indoor tanning devices can emit UV radiation in amounts 10 to 15 times higher than the sun at its peak intensity. They’re so dangerous that 18 states (as well as several countries) prohibit minors from using them, and Brazil and Australia banned them altogether. 

Rather than risking your health for a bronzed look, opt for a sunless tanning product like the L’Oréal Paris Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Water Mousse which provides a gorgeous glow without the damaging effects of UV radiation. 

Next: Sun Protection Tips for Dark Skin Tones

Photography: Chaunte Vaughn, Senior Art Director: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Stylist: Adriana Perez-Bell, Digital Tech: Paul Yem, Model: Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick

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