Skin Cancer (Melanoma) FAQs
Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Take the Skin Cancer (Melanoma) Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!
Q:Self-examination is important in the detection of skin cancer. True or False?
A:True. Because most melanomas occur on the skin where they can be seen, patients themselves are often the first to detect many melanomas. About 50,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the United States every year.
Q:Most moles become skin cancer. True or False?
A:False. The vast majority of moles remain moles and do not turn into anything else.
Q:Because you have sunburn, your risk of developing skin cancer has increased. True or False?
A:True. Individual sunburns do raise your risk of melanoma. However, some daily sun exposure, even without burning, may also substantially raise your risk of skin cancer.
Q:Skin cancer is definitively diagnosed by what?
A:Skin biopsy. Most doctors diagnose melanoma by examining the spot causing concern and doing a biopsy.
Q:Changes in colored lesions are rarely signs of skin cancer. True or False?
A:False. Changes in the appearance of skin lesions may indicate a serious problem.
Q:What are the ABCs of skin cancer?
A:Melanomas most often arise on normal skin, but they may also occasionally occur in conjunction with a benign nevus (beauty mark or birthmark). The identification of potentially malignant pigmented lesions is best remembered by using the first five letters of the alphabet as follows:
Q:Which state leads the nation in skin cancer cases?
A:California. According to the CDC's U.S. statistics as related to melanomas of the skin, skin cancer ranks highest is the follow top 10 states:
Q:Skin cancer is the most common cancer in humans. True or False?
A:True. Skin cancer is the most common form of all human cancers in the United States, accounting for 75% of all cancer diagnoses. The two most common types -- basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma -- are highly curable. Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous.
Q:Most cases of skin cancer are cured. True or False?
A:True. Most cases of skin cancer are cured, but the disease is a major health concern because it affects so many people. The incidence of skin cancer is rising, even though most cases could be prevented by limiting the skin's exposure to ultraviolet radiation through the appropriate use of sunscreen, limiting time in the sun, and wearing protective clothing.
Q:Who is most at risk for skin cancer?
A:Men. Skin cancer is about three times more common in men than in women, and the risk increases with age. Most people diagnosed with skin cancer are between ages 45 and 54, although all forms of the disease are appearing more often in younger people. If you or any close relatives have had skin cancer, you are more likely to get the disease.
Q:Which country has the highest rates of skin cancer?
A:Australia. Skin cancer tends to strike people of light skin color. An estimated 40% to 50% of fair-skinned people who live to be 65 will develop at least one skin cancer. The incidence of skin cancer is predictably higher in places with intense sunshine, such as Arizona and Hawaii. It is most common in Australia, which was settled largely by fair-skinned people of Irish and English descent.
Q:Tanning booths are the main cause of skin cancer in the United States. True or False?
A:False. Excessive exposure to sunlight is the main cause of skin cancer. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that can alter the genetic material in skin cells, causing mutations. Sunlamps, tanning booths, and X-rays also generate UV rays that can damage skin and cause malignant cell mutations.
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