Even after getting slammed with a diagnosis of melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer, some patients continue their sun-seeking ways.
In a recent study, Dr. Rachel Vogel and colleagues surveyed 724 melanoma survivors about their sun safety practices. The findings were published March 2 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The authors reported that up to 20% of melanoma survivors experienced a sunburn within the last year. Sunburn occurs when the skin is exposed to levels of harmful ultraviolet rays, called UVB and UVA. UVA penetrates more deeply into the skin and is associated with melanoma, while UVB targets more superficially in the skin, and is associated with 2 other skin cancer types, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. UVB causes direct DNA damage, which progressively leads to cancer.
On the bright side, “Survivors are doing better than other people, but that’s not good enough,” says Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.