Ignorance Isn't Bliss

Young people with family history of melanoma ignore sun-protection advice

(RxWiki News) Young people at risk of developing melanoma (including those who suntan and have relatives who have had the deadly skin disease) largely ignore sun-safety advice, according to a new study.

The study surveyed more than 500 people with a family history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, asking whether they used sunscreen and if they sunbathed regularly. Most of the respondents were aware sunscreen would help protect them from harmful ultraviolet rays that contribute to melanoma, but many did not feel it necessary to use sun protection.

dailyRx Insight: While many people, especially young adults, think a little sunshine without sunscreen is ok, they are wrong and need to slap on some SPF.           

The study, led by professor Sharon Manne at the Center Cancer Prevention and Control Program, New Jersey, also found that despite increased risk of melanoma, young women still viewed a tan as being healthy. This group was most likely not to use sunscreen.

Manne said to reduce melanoma incidences, society needs to abandon perceived notions about the benefits of sunbathing, and increase protective devices against the sun, including hats, clothing and sunscreen.

Cancer is diagnosed in over 12 million people each year, and kills over 7 million. It is the largest cause of death in the developing world, and one out of ever three people will be diagnosed with an invasive cancer at some point in their lifetime. Cancer is a group of diseases classified by abnormal and uncontrolled cellular growth in a particular organ or tissue type in the body. When the growth invades other tissues, causes damage to them, or spreads to different parts of the body it is considered malignant. Cancer is caused by a multitude of factors including genetics and infections, but a majority of cancers can be attributed to environmental causes, such as smoking, and being exposed to carcinogens or radiation. Symptoms of cancer are variable. In some cases, the cancer will produce symptoms that affect the organ it is located in, such as coughing and shortness of breath from a lung cancer, constipation and bloody stools from colon cancer, or headaches and cognitive problems from a brain cancer. Other cancers such as leukemia and blood cancers may produce flu-like symptoms and sudden infections. Some cancers may be discovered by a lump, or physical evidence, such as in breast cancer. Treatment for cancer is usually one of or a combination of surgery to remove it, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Newer treatments such as hormonal drugs and targeted drugs are making cancer treatment even more specific to the patient and the disease. Diagnosis is based off of physical examination and several imaging techniques such as MRI, PET scan, and laparoscopy. Definitive diagnosis is achieved when a piece of cancerous tissue is examined by a pathologist.

More than 8,000 Americans died from melanoma in 2009, according to the American Melanoma Foundation.

Review Date: 
February 22, 2011