If I’ve Never Had Skin Cancer, Why Should I Worry?

Last updated: January 2023

Having had skin cancer twice doesn’t make me an expert. Yet, I often hear friends say, “If I’ve never had skin cancer, why should I worry?” Some people believe that they aren’t susceptible to skin cancer because they’ve never had an issue - even those who tan incessantly. So, does it matter if you’ve had it before or not?

Age is a factor

While any person of any age can get skin cancer, age does play a factor. In fact, one of the risk factors is that your risk of skin cancer increases as you grow older. Younger people who frequently spend time in the sun are at risk, as with anyone who has sun exposure. But those who got sunburns a lot when they were younger are even more susceptible.1

I remember my dad worked in construction much of his life. He was very tan, and didn’t burn easily. He had no issues until he was in his late 50s to early 60s. Then there were many skin cancers. He spent a lot of time getting them removed - more than one at a time. It was as if they all decided to show up at once. While that’s not really true, skin cancer was not seemingly an issue when he was younger.

Skin tone matters, but not as much as you think

While those with fair skin tones are often more at risk for sun damage and skin cancer, it’s a common myth that those with dark skin tones are safe. Anyone can get skin cancer. It doesn’t matter if you tan easily, have a deep tan already, or have a dark skin tone. Even black skin tones can get skin cancer.

Keep sun damage in mind

You don’t have to constantly worry about getting skin cancer, but you should be aware of the risk, no matter who you are. Just because you haven’t had any cancer scares in the past, doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods.

Try to educate others

It’s not my business to preach to my friends and come off like a know-it-all. My constant tanning friends may never have a skin cancer scare. But it is important to know that sometimes skin cancer doesn’t show up until you’re older.

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I got my first one when I was in my 30s. The next was years later. I do have fair skin, and didn’t know about tanning and burning risks when I was a teenager. Tanning looked good on my skin, and everyone did it.

Now we have more knowledge of the risks.

Unfortunately, some still don’t realize it only because they have been fortunate. And yes, they may never get skin cancer. But it is always essential to at least try to tell someone nicely of the risks. That may be difficult, because it’s hard to not sound preachy. What you can do is share articles, or tell them your story casually. It may help someone in the future, or at least get the conversation started.

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