Skin cancer is a relatively uncommon type of cancer in Canada as we get little sunlight up north.
Skin cancer is by far, the most common type of cancer in both in Canada and elsewhere. Alarmingly, the incidence of skin cancer is also on the increase in recent decades.
Skin cancer has a high cure rate if discovered early.
The common skin cancers all have a high cure rate (over 90%) if diagnosed early. Unlike many other cancers, skin cancers are visible, and have a good chance of being found early if you know what you’re looking for.
Skin cancer only affects Caucasians.
While it’s true that people with lighter skin tones have a higher rate of skin cancer skin cancer can affect anyone and sun exposure will increase the risk of developing skin cancers in anyone.
Actinic keratosis is a pre-cancer that should be diagnosed and removed as soon as possible.
Actinic keratosis is a patch of dry, scaly skin that typically ranges from pink to brown that forms in sun exposed areas of the skin. Some AKs will later become a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, and these lesions should be diagnosed and removed as soon as possible.
Tanning beds use artificial light, which makes it a safe alternative to natural tanning.
Tanning beds emit UVA and UVB light just like the sun, often in more concentrated bursts, and have the same damaging effects on the skin as natural sunlight. There is significant evidence that the use of tanning beds increase the risk of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Non-melanoma skin cancers should be diagnosed and removed promptly.
While non-melanoma cancers are less dangerous compared to melanomas, they still have the potential to spread to nearby lymph nodes and internal organs if left untreated. More commonly, non-melanoma cancers will still invade nearby skin, causing damage and disfiguring surrounding tissue. It’s very important to treat all skin cancers seriously and remove them as soon as possible.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer.
Basal Cell Carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer, affecting over 50,000 people every year in Canada. Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common type of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is only a concern for people over the age of 50.
While it’s true that skin cancer incidence increases with age, anyone can get skin cancer. In fact, skin cancer in younger people have been on the rise in recent decades.
Basal cell carcinoma is very common but is rarely fatal.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer. Thankfully it rarely spreads to internal organs, and so is rarely fatal. It is still very important that patients seek treatment as quickly as possible to avoid damage to nearby tissues. BCCs are still a cancer, and will continue to spread and damage the surrounding tissues until it is completely removed.
Skin cancers often recur even after treatment.
While it is true that having skin cancer in the past makes you more likely to develop more skin cancer in the future, this doesn’t mean that the treatment failed. Most skin cancers are successfully removed. Past history of skin cancer is evidence that the skin has been damaged by accumulated sun exposure. The risk of developing a new skin cancer in the damaged area is therefore increased which can often be mistaken for cancer recurrence. For more details on this common confusion, watch this video.
Checking for skin cancers on a regular basis can potentially save your life.
While a doctor will make the diagnosis, it is still on the patient to visit the doctor. Educating yourself, and spending 15 minutes every month to check your body for possible skin cancer lesions can help you identify skin cancer at its earliest stages, where the cure rate is over 95%.
Non-melanoma skin cancers aren’t fatal, and therefore aren’t a serious concern.
While it’s true that melanoma is on a league of its own when it comes to mortality rate, they are also much less common compared to other skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma can be fatal as it can metastasize to internal organs. In rare cases basal cell carcinomas can also be fatal. Moreover, all skin cancers are malignant, and will cause damage to its surrounding cells until it is removed.