MYTH: Skin cancer only grows on sun-exposed skin

Winter is an ideal time for your annual check-up as signs of skin cancer can be easier to identify.

Do you believe the common misconception that skin cancer only develops on sun-exposed parts of the body?

It is true that the majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV radiation, and therefore most cancerous lesions will often develop on the skin most often exposed to the sun, such as the shoulders, face, arms and legs.

But not all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure! Australia’s most common cancer can grow anywhere on the body.

“While some skin cancers arise due to sun exposure that damages the skin’s DNA and leads to cell malignancies, melanoma can appear anywhere, including in places that have never seen the sun,” says Dr Bahman Mansourzadeh from Officer Skin Cancer Centre.

That means potentially deadly melanomas can develop on the mouth, eyes, palms, genitals, soles of the feet, and even under your fingernails.

Lesions can also grow on your scalp (even if you have thick hair) and especially down your part line where you might forget to apply a swipe of sunscreen.

Men are most likely to grow skin cancers on the trunk, upper body and face, while women see more melanomas on their legs. Some melanomas are invisible to the naked eye until an advanced stage.

“That’s why it’s important to get regular skin cancer checks, so we can monitor your whole skin surface and find suspicious lesions early when you have the best chance of treatment,” says Dr Mansourzadeh.

“Winter is an ideal time for your annual check-up as signs of skin cancer can be easier for us to identify without the disguise of your summer tan.”

Book your skin cancer check at Berwick Skin Cancer Centre (call 9769 3358) or Officer Skin Cancer Centre (call 5940 5006), or visit