There's good news and there's bad news and then some more good news in the fight against skin cancer.
The good news: In a recent study by the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, doctors noticed that young men between the ages of 15 and 39 are not experiencing any significant rises in the number of new melanoma diagnoses.
The bad news? There is no such good news regarding young women. In fact, the cases of melanoma diagnosis in women between the ages of 15 and 39 have risen by 50% since 1980. What's particularly disturbing about this statistic is the fact that children are affected by these numbers. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that the number of melanoma in cases in children and teenagers between 10 and 15 have increased 3% each year since 1973.
The good news: Overall, melanoma is not common in children and teens and is treatable if caught early. Almost 94% of children diagnosed with melanoma survive. Plus, melanoma is preventable if we pay attention to our children's sun habits and teach them to protect their skin from harmful UV rays.
Allow your children to enjoy summer, but make sure they apply sunscreen on a regular basis, even if it's cloudy outside. UV rays can penetrate through clouds and cause sunburns even when you can't see the sun. Encourage your children to wear hats and sunglasses and try to stick to the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM, when UV rays are most potent.
If your child takes any medications, make sure that they don't increase sun sensitivity. Check your children's moles regularly and look for changes in color and shape. If you notice a big difference, have the mole checked out by a doctor. Most importantly, inform your teenagers of the dangers of skin cancer and discourage the use of UV tanning beds.