Spring Break Could Increase Children's Risk for Skin Cancer

kids-cancerSpring Break season means more kids and parents are heading outdoors for some fun in the sun, but experts warn that increased sun exposure can still cause severe cases of skin cancer.

The fresh sunshine of the season can make pale winter skin even more vulnerable to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, especially if the person isn't prepared for the weather with appropriate sun protection.

A recent study led by Dr. Lori Crane, the chair of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health in the University of Colorado Denver was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal published by the American Association for Cancer Research.

The results of the study showed that children who joined parents for waterside vacations (beaches, water resorts), were much more likely to develop skin moles than those who vacationed at home.  The increased sun exposure, coupled with the chances that the children would be wearing bathing suits, put them at an increased risk for developing skin moles that may eventually develop into skin cancer.

Results of the study also revealed that young boys were at nearly a 20 percent higher risk of developing nevi than girls, and that every waterside vacation increased the risk of developing skin moles by as much as 5 percent.

Parents and children planning for a Spring break vacation this season should exercise caution when spending time outdoors, especially if they are planning on being by the water for extended periods of time.  Spring breakers can protect their skin by wearing sunscreen at all times, covering up with long sleeve shirts throughout the day, and steering clear of direct sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Daily sun exposure only increases the risk of skin cancer, which is why spending only a couple of full days on the beach and spending the rest of the time away from the water is highly recommended.

Individuals who do develop moles can get a skin cancer screening from a skin cancer doctor; if the mole is benign, there are several mole removal options available.

Further Reading

  • If you’re one of the many people who head to the beach with plenty of sunscreen and a beach umbrella, you may still need to take extra steps to ward off harmful UV rays. According to a recent study published in the Photochemistry and Photobiology journals, beach umbrellas block out only about 70 percent of UV rays.

  • Mohs surgery has been proven effective for reducing facial scarring after skin cancer surgery, and is quickly becoming the preferred surgery of choice at several cosmetic surgery and dermatology offices around the United States.

  • A new study carried out by the Institute of Cancer Research and published in the Cancer Research journal shows that a genetic mutation found in some forms of malignant melanoma can initiate the development of the deadliest form of skin cancer. The KRAS gene is mutated in approximately two per cent of malignant melanomas, and is the study is the first of its kind to show that damage to this gene can be the first in a process of events that trigger malignant melanoma.