Skin cancer among teenagers and young adults is on the rise.
Inordinate direct exposure to sun rays during tweens leads to preponderance of malignant changes in skin, especially among the youths with a genetic predisposition. Absence of melanin, the protective color of the skin, adds to the risk.
There is a rising concern for the preschool group of children as well. They are also being exposed to sun for long hours during their summer holidays.
"A sun burn at age 25 is not as damaging as a sun burn at the tender age of 4. So we have a critical window in childhood to minimize life-time risk," says Bernard Cohen, M.D., director of pediatric dermatology at Hopkins Children's.
Prevention of excessive exposure to sun rays is the best way to avoid hazardous effects of harmful UV radiation.
For infants and children it is the task of the parents and all the others who care for children.
According to a recent prospective study published in Pediatrics 2012;129:309–317, 50 percent of children experience some degree of sunburns before the age of 11 and again 3 years later.
Children need to be educated to guard themselves from ill effects of UV radiation.
Very fair to fair pre and early teenagers, who are at greatest risk of skin cancer, sun bathe for inordinate hours. They risk sunburns in order to achieve the desired tan.
Lack of adequate knowledge and the independent attitude (related to the stage of development) makes tweens indulge even in to indoor tanning beds, which markedly aggravates their risk for melanoma and other forms of skin cancer later in life.
In 2009, WHO has classified tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category -- "carcinogenic to humans".
The ill effects of tanning beds and sunlamps are more pronounced when used before 30 years of age. They deliver more concentrated doses of UV radiation as compared to the sun.
Therefore, the risk of melanoma increases by almost 75 percent with their use. Evidences are documented that UV-emitting tanning devices can also lead to melanoma of the eye.
Parents should regularly perform full-body checks of their children for suspicious moles, and also teach children to inform them if they noticed any new mole.
The primary characteristics of skin cancer are, asymmetrical shape, border irregularities, color changes and increase in diameter.
The results of a recent study from Denmark and the US , published in the journal “Cancer”, show that regular low dose of daily aspirin, taken over few years, can reduce the chances of developing skin cancer – including squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.
Are we ready to recommend aspirin to children for cancer prevention?
–Read more under "Aspirin the miracle medicine"
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