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More Young Adults Are Getting Skin Cancer

More Young Adults Are Getting Skin Cancer

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reportingSkin cancer cases are on the rise, and the disease is cropping up in an unexpected group.

Another summer day in San Francisco. With all the fog, not everyone is thinking about sunscreen.

"Not today. I wouldn't wear sunscreen today."

"I would never think about using sunscreen on a day like this."

But an alarming trend in skin cancers should make everyone think twice.

Researchers studied non-melanoma skin cancers for roughly 30 years. While these cancers are more common in the elderly, this study found a startling increase among young adults.

The skin cancers they studied are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Young women are especially at risk.

Leslie Christenson, MD/ Lead Researcher: "The most frightening finding in our study is that three times as many women under the age of 40 are developing basal cell carcinoma than developed it less than 25 years ago."

Roy Grekin, MD/ UCSF Medical Center: "The study confirms what we've all known for a number of years, and that there's a significant increase of skin cancers."

Dr. Roy Grekin of UCSF should know. The dermatologic surgeon had cut out eight skin cancers just this morning.

Dr. Grekin: "Squamous cell carcinomas can be fatal. Not nearly as frequently as melanomas, but it's possible."

Dr. Grekin says most nonmelanoma skin cancers occur on the face or the neck, and to remove them can be disfiguring.

Dr. Grekin: "When you cut them out, which is the most common way they're treated, that's going to remove some of that structure. When you cut the skin you have to leave a scar behind."

Ironically, these scars are a consequence of an activity many young people adore, and that is tanning.

"The most important cause is sun exposure."

And with skin cancers happening at an earlier age, the numbers are only get bigger as these young adults age.

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