Melanoma? It’s a girl thing. Old guys get it. It only affects fair-skinned people. Right? Wrong. Dead wrong.
You’ve heard us say it before; If you have skin – you are at risk for melanoma – especially adolescents and young adults who have unique hormonal and lifestyle factors which come into play. The hard truth is this; if not found early – melanoma can kill you.
This Melanoma May, we turn the spotlight on the guys! New research is focused on the surge in the number of young men between the ages of 15 and 39 who are dying from melanoma. Between 1995 and 2014, diagnosis of melanoma in the head and neck areas increased 51%. Even more unsettling – 60% of those who died – were young men. Men’s Health Magazine offers a deep dive into the subject! https://bit.ly/3aS21tz
So why are are adolescent boys and young men more at risk?
As in young people of all genders and races, hormones play a roll. In men, it’s believed surging levels of testosterone can kick-start melanoma making it more invasive and aggressive. Researchers at Oxford University found a new link between higher levels of testosterone in the blood and increased risk of melanoma in men. Other factors are genetics, immune system and an active sun – soaked lifestyle! 13-39 year olds spend a ton of time in the sun, often without a thought to the need for sunscreen or UPF 50 protective clothing. Add to that the bad habit of visiting tanning booths ( did you know one time can increase your risk 75%? ). It all adds up!
Overall, diagnosis is up 253% in all young people in the last 40 years, making melanoma the second most common cancer in adolescents, and the most common cancer in young adults.
What can you do to protect yourself? Plenty and it is SO simple!
- Wear sunscreen every day! At least SPF30 and apply every two hours when out in the sun. Don’t forget your ears and the back of your the neck. Be especially attentive to reapplying when swimming, sweating or going shirtless.
- Invest in UPF50 clothing and hats for long days in the sun! It blocks 98% of the sun’s damaging rays from your skin. Regular clothing only blocks 6% of the UV rays.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from Occular Melanoma.
- Check your body monthly for any skin or mole changes. Keep in mind, melanoma in young people can be colorless, pink or even look like a wart. Listen to that inner voice and make an appointment with a dermatologist should anything look unusual.
- Get a full-body dermoscopy skin screening by a dermatologist every year. Your general practitioner may be great, but understand that only a dermatologist is properly trained to catch any potential mole changes at the very earliest point.
There are a number of other factors that can come into play when it comes to melanoma in the adolescent and young adult population. You can learn more here https://bit.ly/2QK00se or by checking out the research section on our website www.clairemariefoundation.org
Take care of your skin. Take care of you, and be aware! Because awareness saves lives.