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Melanoma Rates Are On The Rise

Doctor examining melanoma on woman with magnifying glass in clinic

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), melanoma rates have doubled between 1982 and 2011. Additionally, the agency also indicates that up to 20 percent of new cases between 2020 and 2030 can be prevented through skin cancer prevention procedures and programs.

According to the CDC, report the annual cost of treating new skin cancer was $457 million in 2011. This cost is projected to rise to nearly $1.6 billion by 2030.

The rise in melanoma cases started increasing in the 80s, after the introduction of the tanning bed. Also, because women are the predominant users of these tanning beds, they are on the forefront of those getting skin cancer.

More than 9,000 deaths are attributed each year to melanoma, and approximately 65,000 cases were diagnosed in 2011.

Effective prevention programs could prevent about 230,000 cases resulting in savings of nearly $2.7 million by 2030. The CDC states that successful programs are a combination of education, media campaigns, and policy changes that increase skin protection in both children and adults.

According to Dr. Thomas Wright, medical director of Laser, Lipo and Vein Center, there are some myths about sun exposure and how it affects the chances of melanoma. “One myth is that all sun exposure that can lead to melanoma occurs during early childhood; however, it is actually only about 25% of the overall exposure.” He continues, saying, “You are never to old for sunscreen and proper sun protection.” According to Dr. Wright, the next 25 percent of sun exposure occurs in people who are between the ages of 18 and 30.

Dr. Wright also explains that understanding the proper level of SPF protection is important. “You don’t have to have an extremely high SPF to get the proper protection,” he states.

For instance, a SPF 15 sunscreen filters out 92 to 94 percent of the UVB rays. Another way to look at this is that an SPF 15 sunscreen will delay sunburn in a person who may burn in about 10 minutes to burn in 150 minutes, allowing a person to stay in the sun up to 15 times longer. Higher rated SPF products, will actually only bump up the protection by about 1 percent. It is also important to note that no product offers 100 percent protection.

Additionally, most SPF products only block UVB rays, not UVA rays, which can prematurely age the skin because these rays can penetrate the skin more deeply. UVA is also the predominate tanning ray and can cause the most damage over time. It is important to note that tanning beds generally emit UVA rays.

Dr. Wright says, “It is important to engage in a good protection program for anyone who enjoys the sun. This includes using a sunscreen product that provides both UVA and UVB coverage.”

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