Can You Tell Melanoma Facts From Myths?

Can You Tell Melanoma Facts From Myths? | UPMC Italy

Each year, an estimated 76,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, a type of cancer that usually originates in skin cells. Melanoma rates continue to rise, and misconceptions about melanoma, including risks, causes, and prevention, are widespread.

Knowledge is power, and ending the misinformation is the first step to saving lives. Our melanoma quiz contains five common beliefs about skin cancer — but not all are true.

Do you think you can tell melanoma facts from fiction? Test your knowledge with our skin cancer quiz.

1. Melanoma is the least dangerous type of skin cancer. True or False?


Of all skin cancer types, melanoma is the most aggressive and deadly. If overlooked, melanoma can spread — or metastasize — quickly. And while it accounts for only 1 percent of all cancers, melanoma claims 10,000 lives each year — the most of any type of skin cancer. 

2. If caught early, melanoma has a high cure rate. True or False?


Ignoring signs of melanoma can be deadly, but the cure rate for early-stage melanoma is over 95 percent.

Routine self-examination and early detection are essential to addressing melanoma in its most treatable stages. When examining your moles and skin lesions, remember your ABCDEs:

  • Asymmetry: one side of the mole looks different from the other.
  • Border: the borders are irregular, ragged, or poorly defined.
  • Color: it's hyperpigmented or dark in color with shades of tan, brown, or black or sometimes even white, red, or blue.
  • Diameter: it's usually wider than a pencil eraser (but it can be smaller).
  • Evolving: the mole or skin lesion appeared rapidly; is different from your other moles; or has changed in size, shape, or color.

3. Getting a base tan prevents sunburn and keeps you from developing skin cancer. True or False?


Once a tan develops, your skin has already been damaged. There is no healthy way to "ease" your skin into becoming tanner when it involves harmful exposure to ultraviolet rays. The risk of skin damage only intensifies if you're using an indoor tanning bed — a well-known contributor to skin cancer.

The best way to prevent melanoma is to limit your exposure to UV rays, wear sunscreen, and practice routine self-examinations.

4. Melanoma only develops on the skin. True or False?


It's true that most melanomas develop on the skin, but they can also form in other areas of the body. Melanoma can appear in the eyes, mouth, anus, or genitals.

5. People with fair skin have a higher risk of developing melanoma. True or False?


People with light complexions, especially those with light or red hair, are at a higher risk of developing melanoma. Your risk is also higher if you:

  • Sunburn easily
  • Have had at least one blistering sunburn
  • Have a family history of skin cancer
  • Use tanning beds

It's important to note that fair skin is just one risk factor for skin cancer, and people with dark skin are not immune to melanoma.

Learn more about our dermatology services or contact one of our specialists to make an appointment for a dermatological screening.