Surgeon General reports alarming increase in skin cancer

There has been a 200 percent jump in deadly melanoma cases since 1973.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Acting U.S. Surgeon General is reporting that there has been a 200 percent jump in deadly melanoma cases since 1973.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer with 9,000 people dying from it each year. It is however preventable if you take steps to protect yourself from the sun.

“I certainly do, I have a sweater on, I try and stay out of the sun as much as I can. I see a dermatologist on an annual basis just to be sure everything is okay,” said Jeanne Trinque of West Springfield.

Wilson Mertens, the Medical Director of Cancer Services at Baystate Health says prevention needs to start at a young age. 

“And much of the rise for development of melanoma occurs when children have been over exposed to sun so we need to model to our kids that we restrict sun exposure, that we do not use tanning booths. We use sun screen and avoid sun at the peek times of the day,” said Dr. Wilson Mertens.

The Surgeon General is calling on government officials to become more involved in prevention. 

Rear Adm. Boris Lushniak says state and local officials need to do more to help people cover up, such as providing shade at parks and sporting events.

Doctors recommend doing regular skin checks for new moles and seeing a doctor if there is any change in size, shape or color. Doctors also recommend applying at least one ounce of sunscreen with and SPF 30 or more and reapplying it every two hours.

The Melanoma Research Foundation says exposure to tanning beds before age 30 increases a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.

 

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