Children of Melanoma Survivors Not Protecting Themselves from UV Rays

Study finds lack of adherence to sun protection recommendations.

Study finds lack of adherence to sun protection recommendations.

The children of patients who survived melanoma are not utilizing proper protection from the sun, according to a recent study.

The study, published online January 13, 2015 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, examined the California Cancer Registry to survey 300 both Latino and non-Latino white melanoma survivors with children 17 years of age and younger over a 3-year period. Due to common misconceptions about the lack of importance for sun protection in Latinos, they were frequently excluded from skin cancer prevention research in the past.

"Sunburns were common among the children in our study despite their elevated risk for skin cancer,” lead researcher Beth Glenn, MD, said in a press release. “Also, children of Latino survivors were just as likely as children of non-Latino white survivors to have experienced a recent sunburn, which highlights the importance of including this group in our work.”

Researchers from UCLA queried parents about attitudes towards melanoma prevention, their assessment of the melanoma risk faced by their children, and the current sun protection strategies they utilize for their children. The survey revealed that many parents rely on sunscreen to protect their child from exposure to the sun, while a fewer number of parents said their child wear a hat or sunglasses or seek shade when exposed to the sun.

Furthermore, it was found that 43% of parents said their child had gotten sunburned within the past year.

The researchers will next apply for additional funding to formulate an intervention program combining a text message reminder system with educational programming for parents and children with a goal to aid melanoma survivors effectively monitor and protect their children against UV radiation.

"Protecting kids against the sun's harmful rays at an early age is vitally important,” Dr. Glenn said. “Our goal is to develop an intervention that will help parents protect their children today and help children develop sun safe habits that will reduce their risk for skin cancer in the future.”