Study finds melanoma rates rise
Summer weather draws near; student offers sun worshippers safety tips
With summer just around the corner and everyone anxious to jump into bathing suits and sundresses, a recent Mayo Clinic population-based study which found a rise in melanoma cases in young adults, especially in women, is concerning.
"Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, develops in the cells that produce melanin - the pigment that gives your skin its color," according to the Mayo Clinic website. The risk for melanoma increases with exposure to UV light from tanning beds and direct sunlight, as well as close family history of melanoma and exposure to certain chemicals or radiation.
From 1970 to 2009, patients between the ages of 18 and 39 were checked for "first-time diagnoses of melanoma." The study found a fourfold increase in young men and an eightfold increase in young women.
Researchers believed the rise in melanoma cases could be a result of the increased use of indoor tanning beds.
The important thing for young adults - especially college students - to remember about decreasing their risk for melanoma is that coverage is key, whether that involves clothing, a wide-brimmed hat or sunscreen.
PubMed Health, a website managed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, said initial symptoms of melanoma can be a simple mole or sore on the skin, and can be diagnosed and removed quickly by a dermatologist if spotted early.
The website also provides the useful acronym ABCDE for self-diagnosis for people who are unsure about a recently-emerged skin abnormality.
A stands for asymmetry; simple enough to remember and even easier to check for: merely look at the mole or lesion and judge whether one side is significantly different from the other.
B stands for borders; if the growth has abnormal edges.
C stands for color; if the color changes within the growth or grows darker over time.
D stands for diameter; the growth is suspect if it is about 6 mm or larger.
E stands for evolution; if the mole continues to change appearance over a relatively short period of time.
Although the study showed an increase in cases of melanoma, it also showed a decrease in deaths caused by skin cancer, which is likely because of early detection methods.
More sunscreen companies are producing lotions which protect against both UVA and UVB sunlight as well, significantly decreasing the skin's exposure to the harmful rays.
Although catching a case of melanoma early reduces chances of fatality, the only real way to prevent skin cancer is by taking measures to protect yourself from the harmful rays.
So before you head off to Foxfield in your spaghetti-strap sundress, ask your roommate to get your back and slap on some SPF-50. When you're the only one who doesn't look like a lobster the next day, you'll thank me.