New Survey Finds Millennials and Gen Xers Not Following Safe Sun Habits, Increasing Risk of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

Only 19% of respondents wear sunscreen year-round; Sun Regrets campaign provides education on the most common skin cancers and risks

(Graphic: Business Wire)

SAN DIEGO--()--In a new survey of 1,000 millennials and 1,000 Gen Xers, 75% of respondents said that while they are mindful of their sun exposure, only 19% wear sunscreen all year, 35% used a tanning bed and 46% regretted how long they stayed out in the sun when they were younger. These harmful habits can lead to an increased overall risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC).1 This is why DermTech, Inc. (NASDAQ: DMTK), a leader in precision dermatology, is now developing a direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketed skin and health wellness DNA risk assessment test. Today, the Company launched its Sun Regrets campaign to educate Americans on their skin health as it relates to the risk of skin cancer, the risk factors of nonmelanoma skin cancer and the importance of preventative measures to reduce ultraviolet (UV) damage.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer, which includes basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), is the most common type of skin cancer, affecting more than 3.3 million Americans each year.2 Actinic keratosis (AK), which affects nearly 40 million Americans each year,3 is a precancerous skin growth that can develop into SCC4 and is one of the most common skin conditions dermatologists treat.4 NMSCs and AKs are caused by repeated exposure to UV from the sun or tanning beds.1,5

Respondents acknowledged they didn’t know much about skin cancer, with only 44% feeling knowledgeable about any type of skin cancer. Even fewer felt informed about nonmelanoma skin cancers basal cell carcinoma (only 16% felt knowledgeable) and squamous cell carcinoma (14%), or actinic keratosis (10%).

“This survey shows there is a lot of room for education when it comes to nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC),” said Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, board-certified dermatologist, clinical associate professor of dermatology, New York University Langone Medical Center. “The good news is that millennials and Gen Xers are concerned about how much sun they are getting, but they still aren’t following key steps to ensure they protect their skin, such as wearing sunscreen year-round and remembering to put sunscreen on all areas that are exposed to the sun. In fact, according to the survey, a majority missed applying sunscreen to key exposed areas, such as ears (25%), lips (14%), and scalp/hairline (13%). Applying adequate sunscreen to these areas can help cut their risk of NMSC.”

Sun Regrets: Respondents Have a Few

  • When it comes to skin protection from the sun, survey responses demonstrated there is room for improvement.
  • Only 24% said they always or often wore sunscreen as a teenager and one in five never wore sunscreen in their teen years.
  • Almost 30% of Gen X respondents never wear sunscreen.
  • More women than men (30% vs. 23%) do not use sunscreen at all.
  • Forty-three percent of respondents have used baby oil or tanning oil in the past.
  • Two times more millennials than Gen X falsely believe tanning beds are safer than outdoor tanning (22% vs. 11%).
  • Seventy-eight percent of all respondents have gone outside on a sunny day without sunscreen.

Skin Cancer Awareness Low

When presented with images of different types of skin lesions, one in three respondents were unable to distinguish between the major kinds of skin cancers and precancers, highlighting the need to educate Americans on how nonmelanoma skin cancer can look. Additional findings included:

  • Only 36% knew an open sore that was slow to heal could be skin cancer.
  • Only 37% of millennials and 45% of Gen Xers thought prolonged sun exposure could lead to precancerous lesions.
    • Overall, women were more aware than men that sun exposure over time can lead to precancerous lesions (47% vs. 33%).
  • Twenty-nine percent were unlikely to get a skin cancer screening if they didn’t see notable changes in their skin.

The random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 millennial (ages 26-41) and Gen X (ages 42-57) respondents was commissioned by DermTech and conducted between Oct. 31 and Nov. 11, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

“While respondents are aware of the different types of skin cancer, including basal and squamous cell carcinomas, respondents acknowledge that they aren’t as informed as they would like,” said Loren Clarke, MD, board-certified pathologist and dermatopathologist, chief medical officer, DermTech. “As nonmelanoma skin cancer is one of the most common types of skin cancer, it is imperative that we build awareness of what skin cancers look like and how to prevent them. The Sun Regrets campaign is an important resource tool to boost Americans’ knowledge of these common forms of skin cancer.”

About DermTech

DermTech is a leading genomics company in dermatology and is creating a new category of medicine, precision dermatology, enabled by our non-invasive skin genomics platform. DermTech’s mission is to transform dermatology with our non-invasive skin genomics platform, to democratize access to high quality dermatology care and to improve the lives of millions. DermTech currently provides genomic analysis of skin samples collected non-invasively using an adhesive patch for melanoma and will be adding an at-home collection, direct-to-consumer marketed DNA risk assessment test for nonmelanoma skin cancer. DermTech is also developing novel non-invasive genomics tests to aid in the diagnosis and management of various skin conditions, including inflammatory diseases and aging-related conditions. For additional information on DermTech, please visit DermTech’s investor relations site at:

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The expectations, estimates, and projections of DermTech may differ from its actual results and consequently, you should not rely on these forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Words such as “expect,” “estimate,” “project,” “budget,” “forecast,” "outlook," “anticipate,” “intend,” “plan,” “may,” “will,” “could,” “should,” “believes,” “predicts,” “potential,” “continue,” and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, expectations and evaluations with respect to: the performance, patient benefits, cost- effectiveness, commercialization and adoption of DermTech’s products and the market opportunity for these products, DermTech’s positioning and potential revenue growth, financial outlook and future financial performance, ability to maintain or improve its operating efficiency, implications and interpretations of any study results, expectations regarding reimbursement or cash collection patterns from Medicare from commercial payors and related billing practices or number of covered lives, and DermTech’s ability to expand its product offerings and develop pipeline products. These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from the expected results. Most of these factors are outside of the control of DermTech and are difficult to predict. Factors that may cause such differences include, but are not limited to: (1) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against DermTech; (2) DermTech’s ability to obtain additional funding to develop and market its products; (3) the existence of favorable or unfavorable clinical guidelines for DermTech’s tests; (4) the reimbursement of DermTech’s tests by Medicare and commercial payors; (5) the ability of patients or healthcare providers to obtain coverage of or sufficient reimbursement for DermTech’s products; (6) DermTech’s ability to grow, manage growth and retain its key employees; (7) changes in applicable laws or regulations; (8) the market adoption and demand for DermTech’s products and services together with the possibility that DermTech may be adversely affected by other economic, business, and/or competitive factors; and (9) other risks and uncertainties included in the “Risk Factors” section of the most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed by DermTech with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), and other documents filed or to be filed by DermTech with the SEC, including subsequently filed reports. DermTech cautions that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. You should not place undue reliance upon any forward- looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. DermTech does not undertake or accept any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect any change in its expectations or any change in events, conditions, or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

1 American Society of Clinical Oncologists. Skin cancer (non-melanoma): Risk factors and prevention. Accessed Feb. 3, 2023.
2 American Cancer Society. Basal & squamous cell skin cancer statistics. Accessed Nov. 8, 2022.
3 Neugebauer R, Katherine A. Levandoski KA, et al. “A real-world, community-based cohort study comparing the effectiveness of topical fluorouracil versus topical imiquimod for the treatment of actinic keratosis.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2018;78:710-6.
4 American Academy of Dermatology. Actinic Keratosis: Overview. Accessed Nov. 16, 2022.
5 American Academy of Dermatology. Actinic Keratosis: Who Gets and Causes. Accessed Feb. 16, 2023.


Jen Jones
GOLD PR (for DermTech)


Jen Jones
GOLD PR (for DermTech)