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AAD Finds One Third of American’s Fail Quiz on Skin Cancer


A survey from the American Academy of Dermatology found that younger generations lack skin cancer knowledge.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) surveyed 1,000 adults on basic skin cancer and sun protection knowledge.1

The survey found:

  • 53% of adults were unaware that shade from the sun can protect them from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • 47% either incorrectly believe or were unsure that having a base tan will prevent sunburns.
  • 35% either incorrectly believe or were unsure that as long as they do not burn, tanning is safe.
  • 31% are unaware that tanning causes skin cancer.

“These findings surprised us and demonstrate that misperceptions about skin cancer and sun exposure are still prevalent,” said Kenneth J. Tomecki, MD, FAAD, president of the AAD, dermatologist, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio. “As dermatologists who see firsthand the impact that skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has on our patients and their families. It’s concerning to see that so many individuals still do not understand how to protect themselves from ultraviolet exposure.”

Also, the survey found a possible lack of understanding of skin cancer among both the Millennial Generation (Millennials), defined as those born between 1981-1996, and Generation Z (Gen Z), those born after 1996.

Millennial results included:

  • 42% are unaware that the sun’s UV rays can penetrate clothing.
  • 37% are unaware that tanning causes skin cancer.
  • 23% are unaware that sunburn increases the risk of getting skin cancer.

Gen Z results included:

  • 42% are unaware that tanning causes skin cancer.
  • 41% are unaware that the sun’s UV rays are reflected by snow, water, and sand.
  • 33% are unaware that they can get sunburned on a cloudy day.

These findings were published just before the start of May which is Skin Cancer Awareness month.

“These are striking results when it comes to younger generations’ knowledge about basic sun exposure,” said Tomecki. “Gen Z and Millennials have a lifetime of potential damaging sun exposure ahead of them, so now is the time to close the knowledge gap and ensure they are aware of how easy it is to practice sun-safe behavior.”


1. New American Academy of Dermatology survey finds one-third of Americans fail basic quiz on skin cancer and sun exposure. Accessed April 28, 2021. https://www.aad.org/news/aad-survey-finds-americans-fail-skin-cancer-quiz

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