Despite dozens of sunscreens on the market and decades of skin cancer awareness, the number of cases is still on the rise.
Skin cancer is now being found in people between the ages of 15 and 39. It’s the youngest generation the country has seen so far. Lafayette Internist, Dr. Rachael Roberts blames tanning beds, the sun, and fearlessness.
“It’s a combination of parents taking their kids to the beach and not protecting them while they’re young,” said Roberts. “Kids are also seeing a pattern of their parents out there tanning and sun exposure. It’s passed on like any habit in life.” A tanning habit has morphed into a bronzing culture. Protecting young skin is now an issue for lawmakers, currently working on banning tanning bed use to anyone 18-years-old and younger. Roberts says it’s about time.
“The truth is, you get up to 12 times the radiation from a tanning bed. So, I think if you can stop that damaging process young, you can probably protect future generations from skin cancer,” said Roberts.
Whether it’s a freckle or a mole, Roberts says dangerous spots can pop up in unlikely places like the ear and scalp. While bronzed skin may a sign of beauty and health, the aftermath is not so pretty. Treatment can range from a simple skin scrap procedure and a very deep, painful, lesion that scars or worse—spreads throughout the body.
“The mortality rates from skin cancer are very high, so I think as soon as you have your first adult exam, you should get a check up on the skin and check yourself every month,” said Roberts.