Melanoma Myths

Myth 1: “When a melanoma is cut out, it’s gone”

Melanoma is one of the most treatable forms of cancer if detected early. However, if undetected, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. Therefore once diagnosed with melanoma it is essential to have regular skin checks with a skin specialist.

Myth 2: “Sunscreen’s all I need”

The use of sunscreen is just one of the five skin protection measures you should use every day. In order to be protected from the UV damage caused by the sun it is recommended that you:

  1. Slip on a shirt
  2. Slop on sunscreen (SPF 30+ or above)
  3. Slap on a hat
  4. Seek shade
  5. Slide on sunglasses

Used together, these are effective prevention measures, particularly in Australia where the UV index is high for a significant part of the day.

Myth 3: “Sunscreen is harmful”

There is no evidence to indicate that sunscreens are toxic or cause long term damage to the skin. There are chemical based sunscreens and mineral (zinc) based sunscreens. You have the choice to use the latter which is equally effective as a means of sun protection. Both are widely available and approved.

Myth 4: “I’m healthier with a tan”

You may feel or think you look healthier with a tan but tanning causes irreparable damage to your skin cells and DNA . In response to UV damage, skin cells produce melanin to protect themselves. This is what darkens the skin and produces the tan.

It also leads to premature ageing and can lead to the development of melanoma. We know that sunburns will increase the likelihood of developing melanoma.

There’s nothing healthy about trying to get a tan.

Myth 5: “I need lots of sun to get Vitamin D”

We all need Vitamin D for good health and the main source is the sun. The vast majority of Australians receive all the Vitamin D necessary by going about our normal daily activities while still protecting our skin, not by tanning which only damages our skin.