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Teenagers, Ultraviolet Light Damage and Skin Cancer, NJ

Posted Apr 24 2011 12:13pm

Spring is here, days are getting longer, and once again it’s time to talk about sun exposure and skin cancer. There is a strong link between exposure to ultraviolet light from sun exposure or indoor tanning equipment and the risk of developing a skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or the most dangerous skin cancer, melanoma.

The incidence of melanoma is growing faster than any other cancer in the United States. Melanoma is now the sixth most common cancer in the United States and is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women between the ages of 20 and 35. Every hour one person dies from melanoma in the United States.

The risk is higher in those exposed to ultraviolet light before age 20. More than a million people use indoor tanning equipment every day, many of them under 18 years of age.

Recently England and Wales placed a ban on the use of indoor tanning equipment by persons under 18 years of age. In the United Stated, legislation to ban teen use of tanning beds is pending in twelve states. Studies find that teens whose parents use indoor tanning equipment are more likely to use it themselves.

In a recent position statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics joined with the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Dermatology in supporting the ban on tanning bed use for all minors.

In order to decrease the risk of skin cancer, the following steps should be taken 1. avoid indoor tanning equipment altogether.
2. avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.
3. use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 50 on a daily basis, and don’t forget to reapply often, especially if swimming or sweating.
4. use sun-protective clothing when in the sun.
5. protect children from sun exposure as ultraviolet light damage before age 20 greatly increases the risk of skin cancer.

Melanoma Detection: See your dermatologist for a full-body skin examination once a year or more often if you have risk factors for skin cancer.

Identifying malignant melanoma: ABCDE Rule

Malignant melanoma

Malignant Melanoma

Asymmetry
Border Irregularity
Color Irregularity
Diameter greater than 1/4 inch (but may be smaller if detected early)
Evolving – Any changing mole is suspect. See your dermatologist.

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