Living with cancer blog

Skin cancer on the rise in young people

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. July 13, 2013

It's so tempting to get out and enjoy the sun. However, new research from Mayo Clinic shows that skin cancer is on the rise — especially among younger people.

Incidence of melanoma — the most deadly type of skin cancer — has dramatically increased among young women.

The recent research shows that people who frequently use indoor tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to develop skin cancers, including melanoma.

Tanning beds use lamps that expose people to a higher UVA radiation than normal sun exposure, which in turn speeds up the development of skin damage.

Most young people don't think about the consequences of using tanning beds or being out in the sun to get a tan.

This news should be a strong wake-up call to everyone on the dangers of tanning. However, it may take time to recognize that no amount of tan is really healthy.

The good news is that people are now more aware of monitoring their skin and the need to see their doctor if they notice changes. Because of this, many skin cancers are detected earlier when treatment is more effective.

Here are a few points to keep in mind regarding skin cancer:

  • Understand your personal risk factors — such as fair skin, excess sun exposure, family history of skin cancer, weakened immune system and any precancerous skin conditions.
  • Begin protecting your skin with sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) and protective clothing (don't forget a hat and sunglasses) — it's not too late to make a difference.
  • Make changes in your outdoor activities — seek out the shade; talk a walk in the evening; sit under the umbrella by the pool.
  • Schedule a baseline skin examination with a dermatologist.
  • Track and report any changes in your skin — be on the lookout for moles that change, new moles or skin discolorations, any bleeding, irregular borders or scaling.
  • Skin cancer can occur in places that are not regularly exposed to the sun as well — check between toes, the soles of your feet and in the genital area.

Are you a skin cancer survivor? Please share your story with others to increase awareness of the dangers of the sun exposure and tanning.

Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.

With

Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

Jul. 13, 2013