Significant Percentage of Melanoma Survivors Do Not Protect Themselves From Further Sun Damage

Published Online: Friday, May 17, 2013
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Research from the Yale School of Medicine revealed that after treatment, a significant portion of melanoma survivors continue to engage in risky sun behavior.

The findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting by lead researcher Anees Chagpar, MD, associate professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine. Her team evaluated data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey and compared the sun-protective practices of the 171 self-reported melanoma survivors with those of non-cancer patients.

Despite the fact that melanoma patients were more likely to report using sunscreen, nearly 27% of melanoma survivors reported never wearing sunscreen, and nearly 15% said they never seek shade. In addition, nearly 2% of melanoma survivors reported using a tanning bed within the previous year.

Because visiting a tanning bed is a voluntary behavior, the researchers were surprised to discover that skin cancer survivors continued to put themselves at risk. Chagpar noted that future research will be focused on the motivations behind forgoing adequate skin protection and the potentially addictive nature of tanning. “We’re finding more ways to help patients survive cancer, but we need to make sure they are taking action to prevent relapses,” she said.

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