Although most survivors of melanoma take precautions to protect their skin from the sun and further occurrences of cancer, a study by Yale researchers revealed that more than a quarter do not use sunscreen when outside for more than an hour and more than 2 percent still use tanning beds.
As such, Anees B. Chagpar, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine, has recommended the data is used to educate the general population, as the results revealed that only 17.2 percent of Americans will always use sunscreen and 5.5 percent still use tanning beds.
"We know that melanoma is a malignancy prevalent in our population, and we know that for many people with melanoma, sun exposure is a major risk factor for recurrence and sun protection may reduce their chances of getting melanoma again," says Chagpar.
"Although we found that melanoma survivors did better than the general public at protecting their skin from the sun, we also found that more than a quarter of melanoma survivors never wear sunscreen. That blew my mind."
Chagpar and colleagues evaluated data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, presenting it at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013, held in Washington, D.C., focusing on data collected on self-reported history of melanoma, sun protection practices and indoor tanning.
Of 27,120 adults, 171 had a prior history of melanoma. Researchers found that compared with those individuals who reported no history of melanoma, survivors were more likely to cover themselves, stay in the shade or wear sunscreen if out on sunny day for more than an hour.
However, 27.3 percent of melanoma survivors still reported never wearing sunscreen highlighting that further education may still be needed.
"We now know that a significant proportion of melanoma survivors still could be doing better. This study speaks to what we could do to educate melanoma survivors on how to prevent recurrence," Chagpar said.