We know that taking a quiz was rarely an eagerly anticipated moment during your years in school. However, this one’s different. There’s absolutely no way to fail. Even if you guess incorrectly on a question(s), you’ll still come out way ahead by having educated yourself about melanoma.
Melanoma is a potentially lethal, but mostly preventable, disease. The more you learn, the better you’ll become at protecting your skin and keeping it healthy.
Some responses contain links to other relevant blog posts. This allows us to provide more valuable information within this post in an easily accessible fashion.
True or False? (Please scroll down for the answers)
- Melanoma incidence within the U.S. is decreasing.
- For the most part, melanoma strikes males and females equally.
- While a melanoma is still in a curable stage, keeping a lookout for the ABCDE warning signs is all that you need to do.
- Sun safety lessons for teens help to cause behavioral changes that decrease their risk of melanoma, and other skin cancers.
- Using a high-SPF (Sun Protection Factor) sunscreen can significantly reduce a person’s chance of developing melanoma.
- If you find a suspicious growth during your monthly skin self-exam, you can usually get a dermatologist appointment quickly.
- Taking a Vitamin D supplement is an effective alternative to sun exposure to ensure that your Vitamin D level is sufficient.
- Melanoma seldom develops within infants, toddlers, and pre-teens.
- The incidence of melanoma is higher in the sunbelt states than it is in most northern states.
- False. The American Cancer Society projected 161,790 new melanoma cases in 2017. For 2018, the ACS projection has increased to 178,560.
- False. Until the age of 50, a greater number of females develop invasive melanoma. However, from cradle-to-grave, the rate is 53% higher in males. It is strongly believed throughout the medical community that tanning beds are partially responsible for the higher prevalence of the disease among young women.
- False. It’s just as important to check for the EFG signs of nodular melanoma.
(Note: ABCDE = ‘Asymmetrical’, ‘Border’, ‘Color’, ‘Diameter’ and ‘Evolving’. EFG = ‘Elevated’, ‘Firm’ and ‘Growing’)
- False. Numerous studies have revealed that sun-safety lessons are ineffective at getting teens to change their behavior patterns. They’re tedious, uninteresting, and teens simply ignore them.
- False. (Mostly). 99% of sunscreen users only apply 25-50% of the amount needed to achieve the rated SPF. With a 100 SPF sunscreen the true SPF values are 3.1 and 10, respectively.
- True. Because the speed of diagnosis and treatment of melanoma is essential, it’s imperative to have suspicious growths checked out as quickly as possible. There are several avenues that people can take to get themselves seen by a dermatologist in short order. To learn more about the different options that are available, please click here.
- True. Please click here to learn why.
- True. (Mostly). Please click here to learn why.
- False. Most northern states have a greater incidence of melanoma. The high-risk factor of intermittent sun exposure, and the widespread mistaken belief that cloud cover and precipitation offer adequate UV (ultraviolet) ray protection, are believed to be two big reasons for this.
Melanoma Questions: A True or False Quiz
So, how did you do? Don’t worry, whatever your score was you’ve earned an A+ today.
Most people wouldn’t even think of driving their cars without first buckling their seat-belts, and with good reason. They’re an excellent precaution to take and continue to save countless lives. But wearing seat-belts isn’t the only thing we need to do to protect ourselves while on the roads.
What’s Out of Sight, Still Keep in Mind
We see daily reminders, in the form of accidents, of why following the traffic laws is so important to our safety. But we don’t see UV (ultraviolet) rays. Unprotected exposure to UV rays while driving can cause skin damage and melanoma, which can eventually lead to the same unfortunate result as a fatal car wreck. Just not quite as quickly.
Thanks to the added plastic layer that keeps them from shattering, windshields offer protection against the effects of UVA and UVB rays. Unfortunately, aside from higher-end vehicles such as those built by Lexus and Mercedes, that’s not the case with rear and side windows. They block UVB rays, but still allow enough UVA rays in to damage our skin. And while window tints are useful at helping to preserve a driver’s anonymity, they’re useless at increasing UVA protection.
Sunshine on Your Shoulder Won’t Make You Happy
With apologies to the late John Denver, the sunlight that penetrates insufficiently-protected car windows can do real damage to the skin of an exposed shoulder. And more frequently to the left side of a driver’s face, as it’s rarely (if ever) covered up.
Glass is Now in Session
Researchers have learned that, while both genders are affected by skin cancers and melanomas on the left side of their faces, the occurrences are more frequent in male drivers. This may in part be due to women being more attentive to their faces regarding sunscreen and sunscreen-infused cosmetics.
A simple Google or Amazon search will yield numerous low-cost plastic UVA-blocking films that can easily be installed on either car or home window glass. Purchasing both types will provide optimum protection.
Now See Here
Nearly all plastic lenses within prescription eyeglasses protect completely against both UVB and UVA rays. The UV coatings often pitched by opticians are unnecessary. The only exception is CR39 lenses. They’ll protect you against UVA rays, but still allow 10% transmission of UVB. Adding clip-on sunglasses over prescription glasses with plastic lenses won’t offer you any significant UVA protection. However, wrap-around sunglasses will protect more skin around your eyes.
An Awesome Spectacle
There is no reason to empty your wallet on a high-cost pair of protective shades. Any non-prescription plastic-lens sunglasses labelled either “100% UV Protective” or “UV 400”, will provide you with complete protection against both UVB and UVA rays.
You can find a good variety of these sunglasses for as little as one buck at any dollar store, or $5-$10 at most discount “Big Box” retailers. You’ll look great while keeping your eyes safe. And if you lose the pair you can easily replace them for pocket change.
The Greenhouse Effect
If you plan on building a greenhouse on your property, choose clear polyethylene sheeting instead of glass. The former contains UV absorbing additives that will protect all occupants against both UVA and UVB rays.
Some myths can be fun or interesting. Who hasn’t wondered if there really is a living dinosaur concealed beneath the cold waves of Scotland’s Loch Ness? Or if some supernatural force is responsible for the disappearances of numerous ships and planes that were travelling across the infamous Bermuda Triangle?
Myths about health and disease, however, are a whole different ballgame. Believing the wrong ones can lead to injury, sickness and even death.
Melanoma is a potentially fatal disease that can, nevertheless, be either prevented or cured by people who know and abide by the facts. In this blog we present 8 common melanoma myths, followed by the actual truth behind each one.
We urge you to save this vital information for yourself, and to post it on your social media platforms.
It’s just a skin cancer, something small on your skin can’t kill you.
Yes, it can. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) predicts that over 13,000 Americans will be killed by some form of skin cancer in 2018. That averages out to more than 1 American death every hour of every day. Size doesn’t matter.
By the time you know you have it it’s too late.
This assumption can easily cost someone his or her life. While it’s true that melanoma can be fatal, it’s the timing of the diagnosis and treatment that determines the ultimate outcome. If caught early enough, melanoma has nearly a 100% cure rate. The mortality risk continues to rise with the passage of time. Which is why suspicious skin growths must be examined by a dermatologist without delay.
Melanomas are always black.
No, they’re not. Melanomas can be black. But they can also be blue-black, dark brown, brown-red, red, pink, grey, flesh-tone, or light to medium brown. Click here to read more facts about the two main types of the disease, nodular and radial, in greater detail.
If you get melanoma you need radiation and chemo to treat it.
A melanoma diagnosis is confirmed after a pathologist examines the excised mole or other skin growth. The excision (which includes a small amount of the surrounding healthy tissue) usually takes place in-office. If the malignancy is caught early enough, the excision itself is usually the cure. If it has gone beyond that, dermatologists have numerous treatment options at their disposal. They will employ the treatment that best suits a given patient’s condition. Chemo and radiation are generally ineffective against melanoma.
Teens and children don’t get melanoma.
Melanoma can develop at any time, from the day we’re born until the day we die. This is an equal opportunity disease that plays no favorites. It doesn’t care about age, gender, color or race. Parents and guardians have a responsibility to educate and protect their children from skin cancer, and step one is learning the truth. It’s difficult to imagine anything in life worse than a terminally ill child. Click on the link to read the facts about childhood melanoma.
Your primary care doctor can tell you if you have melanoma.
General practitioners usually lack sufficient training to accurately determine what’s actually melanoma, and what is merely a benign growth or a melanoma mimic. Even a trained dermatologist can’t always tell if a suspicious skin growth is cancerous just by looking. The difference, however, if he or she has the experience, diagnostic technology and resources that a GP does not.
It takes months to get an appointment with a dermatologist.
While it’s true that many dermatologist appointments are scheduled a few months in advance, they can be expedited when a patient detects something suspicious on his or her skin. In such cases call your dermatologist, tell him or her that you have a growth that looks like a photo of a melanoma, and request to receive any open time slot he or she may have. Or any opening due to a cancellation. If after a week you haven’t been seen, there are other options. You can learn more about them through this link.
Sunscreen with a high SPF will protect you from skin cancer and melanoma.
It depends. In order to receive the full SPF (Sun protection factor) effect, the sunscreen must be applied correctly. The typical person uses only 25% of what’s needed to obtain that full effect. An SPF 100 sunscreen applied at 25% has an effective SPF of only 3.1. If you are in a swimsuit, you need to apply an amount equivalent to a full shot glass (more for larger/taller people). Every inch of exposed skin should be evenly covered, and it should be re-applied every 2 hours at minimum. Even sooner if you have been swimming or sweating.
Getting a base tan before going on vacation to a warm sunny country or state will protect you from skin cancer.
Getting a base tan to protect against skin cancer is like eating doughnuts to avoid obesity. This is one of the more egregious skin cancer myths out there, and it needs to be quickly put to rest. Any unprotected sun exposure, either natural or artificial, can cause skin damage, skin cancer and/or melanoma.
When the subject is melanoma, it’s just the facts, ma’am (and sir). Just the facts.
There is always something new to learn about melanoma, and skin cancer in general. Through this blog, we’re able to continually reach countless people with these updates and contribute to the public’s education on the subject.
We also know that it’s important to occasionally look back and help refresh memories on the basics of this disease. That’s what we’ve done here today.
Of course, we can’t fit every bit of data into a single blog post. So, we’ve focused on a few of the most important melanoma subtopics. We’re presenting this in easy-to-read bullet point form with the hope that readers will bookmark this post for easily-repeatable access.
For those who are interested in more in-depth information on a given post, each bold headline is also a clickable link directly back to the original article on its topic.
- Most dangerous of the two main types of melanoma (Radial is the other)
- Typically presents initially on previously unblemished skin
- Often dome-shaped
- Can be multiple colors, though usually black, blue-black, dark brown or brown-red
- Unlike most skin cancers, begins its development beneath the skin’s surface
- Constitutes about 20% in adults, but 40%-60% in teens, pre-teens and adolescents
- Sunscreen is an excellent skin-protector, but only if applied and re-applied correctly
- Most sunscreen users apply only 25% of the amount needed to enjoy its full protective impact
- Minimum amount to apply if wearing a bathing suit would fill a shot glass
- A sufficient amount of sunscreen must be applied evenly over all sun-exposed skin to achieve maximum effectiveness
- Sunscreen must be re-applied every two hours at minimum. More frequently if the wearer has been swimming and/or sweating
- Anyone can develop melanoma from the day he or she is born
- Up to 10 years old, melanoma is frequently red; though it can present as pink or flesh-colored
- Melanoma in 11-18-year-olds is similar in appearance to melanoma in adults
- Infants should be completely protected from the sun until they’re at least 6 months old
- Focus is on helping middle and high school health educators correctly teach their students about melanoma detection and prevention
- Research data reveals these lessons are extremely effective
- Taught in over 1,700 schools in all 50 states
- Brief and to the point to accommodate the short attention spans of young people
- More effective than sun safety-based lessons
- To learn more, teachers and parents may watch this 3-minute long introductory video. Afterward, teachers can register for totally free access to the lesson-videos and other free resources.
- Highly-effective tool for use in early melanoma detection
- Most patients discover their own melanoma before their doctors do
- Unless there’s something visually obvious or the subject is broached to them, most doctors don’t even bother checking for skin cancer during routine appointments
- 30% of melanomas develop on skin that is rarely exposed to the sun
- Once a month, check your entire body for suspicious or changing moles and skin growths. Including under the hair.
- Employ mirrors and/or a significant other/good friend to assist checking areas you cannot see
- Ask hair stylists and tattoo artists to alert you if they come across any suspicious-looking growths
- If caught early enough, melanoma’s cure rate is nearly 100%. If allowed to develop untreated, with enough time it will nearly always become fatal. Early detection is paramount.
- About 40% of tanning salons ignore state laws, and very often get away with doing so
- Tanning leads to a massive increase in the odds of developing skin cancer; especially in young women, who frequent these salons more than any other age and gender demographic
- More skin cancer is caused by tanning beds than lung cancer is caused by smoking
We encourage you to read any of the wide variety of previous posts on our blog, along with our new posts., and visit Skincheck.org for more good information on this horrible, yet mostly preventable, disease.Melanoma Potpourri
Each day, more people learn about the importance of wearing sunscreen whenever they’re outdoors to shield themselves against the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays. While that news is heartening, getting that information out is only half of the battle.
If a user misunderstands how a sunscreen’s Sun Protection Factor (SPF) works, or if the product is incorrectly applied, the level of protection received can be considerably lower than he or she believes it to be. That can be very dangerous.
If your mouthwash contained a lesser percentage of cinnamon flavor than you thought it did, it would make absolutely no difference as far as your health is concerned. However, if you walked around every day thinking you were wearing a sunscreen that provided more skin defense than it actually did, that mistaken notion could end up resulting in skin cancer. Or, even worse, the potentially deadly melanoma.
Don’t Get Burned, Either Literally or Figuratively
We’d like to help clear up this confusion. There is a view held by many that, because an SPF 50 sunscreen absorbs 98% of UVB radiation while an SPF 100 sunscreen absorbs 99%, just 1% more, the SPF 100 sunscreen offers hardly any advantage over the SPF 50 sunscreen. That’s a misinterpretation of the facts.
If an SPF 100 sunscreen is correctly applied and continually re-applied every two hours at a minimum, (or immediately after swimming or profuse sweating) it’ll provide adequate skin protection for double the amount of time that a SPF 50 sunscreen will.
But Wait, There’s More!
There are other ways that we inadvertently end up leaving ourselves vulnerable to those dangerous UV rays. We’ll go over a few here.
It’s the rare person who applies an amount of sunscreen sufficient enough to reach the SPF level touted by the product. And, whether they do or not, most don’t re-apply it as needed- if they even re-apply it at all.
Every time you use sunscreen, the goal should be to cover every sun-exposed inch of skin. If you’re in a swimsuit, the necessary quantity is enough to fill a shot glass. In fact, instead of guessing, consider simply using an actual shot glass.
Unfortunately, independent studies have shown that an alarming number of sunscreen brands don’t meet the SPF ratings that their packages trumpet. It’s important to do a little online research on your favorite brand to see if the claimed SPF is accurate.
Finally, it bears repeating. You’ve probably heard that famous real estate slogan, it’s all about location, location, location! With sunscreen, think re-application, re-application, re-application! If you’re going to be spending time outdoors, re-application is as important as applying sunscreen is to begin with.
SPF: Fact versus Fiction
*Additional source: Melanoma Education Foundation (MEF) Fall 2016 Newsletter
Anyone with even the most basic awareness of skin cancer is likely to know that the Golden Rule of practicing sun-safety is to wear sunscreen. The only better protection from the sun’s harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays is to sit inside your home with all the window shades drawn.
Unfortunately, though, there is a key piece of information regarding sunscreen of which far too many people are unaware.
Get the Maximum SPF Out of Your Sunscreen
First, if you’re a regular sunscreen user—excellent job. However, it’s equally important to apply the correct amount. This is the only way to ensure that the sun protection factor (SPF) sun-shield that you’re actually receiving is identical to what is stated on the product.
Many of us, albeit unwittingly, fall into that category. The typical wearer applies a mere 25% of what’s required to achieve a sunscreen’s full safety potential. And while 75% off may be fantastic for department store sales; it is disastrous to our skin. To illustrate further, when 25% of an SPF 100 rated sunscreen is applied, the true SPF isn’t 25-—it’s only 3.2.
Anyone who spends even a brief time reading up on skin cancer and melanoma, will inevitably come across a few of the same specific comparisons used in a wide variety of materials. The one relevant to this post is that the minimum volume of sunscreen to use for each application would be enough to fill a shot glass. It’s also important that it be evenly distributed across any exposed skin, and be re-applied at a maximum of two hours. Even sooner than that if you’ve been sweating or swimming.
Speaking of the latter, spending a day at a beach or pool wearing only a swimsuit is not a good idea. However, anyone who does should use up an entire a 6-ounce container of sunscreen on him or herself by the time they leave. Do you use that much or know anyone who does?
The main point is important to reiterate: you must apply sunscreen much more heavily than that of most users to achieve the rated SPF.
Don’t just get your money’s worth of SPF; get your skin’s good health worth.