What Do You Really Know About Skin Cancer?

John Miller

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Each year, millions of people around the world are affected by a skin cancer diagnosis. Some of those cancers will be minor; others will be deadly. How much do you really know about this incredibly common affliction?

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It can be a pretty minor condition, or it can kill you.

There are how many main categories of skin cancer?

There are three main categories of skin cancer. They are melanoma, basal-cell and squamous-cell cancer. They vary in their effects, and the treatment is different, too.

What's one way to spot skin cancer?

You can perform a monthly skin exam to keep an eye out for potential problem areas. You'll find instructions for this exam on Skincancer.org.

True or false, in the past 30 years, have more people had skin cancer than all other categories of cancer combined?

Skin cancer is dishearteningly common, and yes, in the past 30 years, more people have had it than all other types of cancer combined.

What's the most common cause of skin cancer?

We can't live without the sun. But the sun's UV rays damage our skin. If you're frequently outdoors, take precautions to protect your skin.

What's one way you can reduce your risk of skin cancer?

Sunscreen technology has advanced significantly in recent years, and so far, it appears to do a good job of protecting the skin from the sun's damaging rays. But you have to apply it liberally and regularly when you're outdoors.

What's a sign of squamous-cell skin cancer?

Squamous-cell skin cancer is often identified due to the little scaly lump that it leaves on your skin. Detected early, doctors can effectively treat squamous-cell cancer.

What is one feared type of skin cancer?

Melanoma is one extremely dangerous type of cancer. It's less common than other types, but when it strikes, it's more likely to grow and spread.

Sunscreen is effective in reducing _____ types of skin cancer.

Sunscreen reduces the odds of most types of skin cancer. At present, however, there's no real evidence to show that it prevents basal-cell skin cancer.

What's the purpose of a tissue biopsy?

In a tissue biopsy, a doctor takes a sample of the skin in question. Then, a lab technician will analyze the tissue to determine whether cancer is present.

What does basal-cell skin cancer look like?

Basal-cell skin cancer looks like a lumpy little blood vessel on the surface of your skin. These little lumps are painless, but they are a very bad sign.

About _____ of all Americans who live to age 65 will develop some type of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is very, very common in the United States. Nearly half of all Americans who live to 65 will have some sort of skin cancer.

About one-third of melanomas develop from what?

You should not ignore moles on your skin, particularly if they change. About a third of melanomas arise from seemingly innocuous skin moles.

Who is more vulnerable to skin cancer?

People with fair (light) skin are magnets for skin cancer. If you have light skin, you're at a much greater risk of skin damage in the sun.

How dangerous are basal- and squamous-cell cancers?

Basal- and squamous-cell cancers are pretty common. But fortunately, they don't often kill their victims. They are usually curable.

Skin cancer accounts for what percentage of cancers worldwide?

It's easily the most common type of cancer. Skin cancer accounts for about 40 percent of all cancers that occur each year around the world.

If you develop melanoma, what are your chances of survival?

Melanoma is a scary and fast-spreading cancer. But if it's caught early, about 90 percent of people will live for at least half a decade following diagnosis.

What's one characteristic of basal-cell skin cancer?

In basal-cell skin cancer, the lesion will often be transclucent. It's frequently a sign of cancer.

What does it mean if a cancer "metastasizes"?

A cancer that metastasizes is bad news. It means that it's spreading to other parts of the body, and if it goes unchecked, it can kill you.

What's a common characteristic of melanoma?

Melanoma isn't as common as other skin cancers, but it's more dangerous because it often spreads. Untreated, it can spread like wildfire through the body, causing an agonizing death.

True or false, can tanning beds cause skin cancer?

This one is old news. Tanning beds unleash a torrent of damaging UV rays upon your skin. They absolutely can cause skin cancer. The only question is: is your vanity worth your life?

What is NOT a potential sign of skin cancer?

Heart palpitations are definitely a bad sign, but not because of skin cancer. Discoloration, moles that change, weird lesions on the skin ... these are all signs that maybe you need to see a doctor.

How much does the United States spend each year to treat skin cancer?

Skin cancer doesn't just take a toll on individuals, it's a burden to the medical system. The United States alone spends about $8 billion to fight skin cancer.

What does melanoma typically look like?

Melanoma typically looks like black or brown splotches on the skin. These cancers have jagged borders and they look like they are up to no good, because they are.

Most basal-cell skin cancers are found where?

Basal-cell skin cancers are often a result of sun damage. They'll frequently appear on parts of the face that are exposed to the sun.

What's one sign of squamous-cell skin cancer?

Squamous-cell skin cancer can be downright ominous in appearance. Sometimes, it will feature sores that bleed.

About how many Americans will die of melanoma in 2017?

Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer. In 2017, researchers expect that about 10,000 people will die from melanoma.

What's the most common form of treatment for the majority of skin cancers?

For most cancers, doctors resort to a scalpel. They'll cut out the cancer and hope that it doesn't recur.

What's one mistake that people make when using sunscreen?

Sunscreen is one of those products that's good to use in massive quantities. Many people use too little and don't apply it often enough throughout the day.

True or false, does smoking increase your chance of skin cancer?

Smoking is one of the worst habits ever devised by humans. It's terrible for your health in general, and yes, it will even increase your odds of developing skin cancer.

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