Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

Melanoma risk doubles

Sunburned shoulders are often a part of the summertime routine, and as a result, the melanoma rate in the US is higher than ever before.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention totaled 65,647 new cases — or 19.7 cases per 100,000 Americans — of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The rate has doubled in the last 30 years.

“Thirty years ago to have a melanoma patient who was in their forties was very very unusual. Then we started to see more and more melanomas in patients who were in their thirties. Then in patients in their twenties and now melanomas in teenagers is so common. It is scary,” Vladimir Vincek, M.D., chair of the University of Florida department of dermatology, explains.

So what happened?

“We are more aware of melanoma, and we detect them more because of that. What really happened over last 30-40 years is that in Western society we accepted this idea that a tan is a reflection of good health and is associated with better looks. They don’t think what will happen later.”

Dr. Vincek says this has been the primary cause of the current melanoma epidemic.

“We as a society poorly educate our children on the risk of sun burns. On other hand we promote activities like UV tanning that are highly dangers but completely unregulated. And at the end we have to pay the high price of losing unnecessary young lives to disease that is very preventable,” Vincek said.

Sunburn is better prevented than treated. Ways to prevent sunburn include:

Use a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. A broad spectrum sunscreen protects from both UVB and UVA rays.

  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to fully cover exposed skin. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or as often as the label says.
  • Apply sunscreen after swimming or sweating and even when it is cloudy.
  • Use a lip balm with sunscreen.
  • Wear a hat and other protective clothing. Light-colored clothing reflects the sun most effectively.
  • Stay out of the sun during hours when the sun’s rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection.

Be sun safe – enjoy the sun, but protect your skin.

About the Author

Amanda Austin's picture

Amanda Austin

Social Media Coordinator

Amanda manages UF Health's Facebook and Twitter accounts, and curates information about healthy and wellness, health industry news, and updates on UF Health research....Read More