Myth Busters, Skin Cancer, Preventative Tips, Melanoma Awareness

At what age can you start developing skin cancer?

Risk factors for skin cancer and melanoma in young people

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Team MoleMap Creator
Posted 25/10/18
Skin cancer young people

Despite the fact that skin cancer is a pressing issue that a lot of people are taking seriously, a number of common myths prevail.

Case in point: most people think skin cancer only happens in older members of the population and young people are less at risk than others.

Skin cancer knows no age: Skin cancer can affect young people too

“I got skin cancer at age 18.”

Suzanne Lasater was a freshman at Western Carolina University when her mum saw a pencil eraser–sized mole on her leg.

Being a nurse, her mum knew there is no time to waste.

Being a teen, Suzanne thought nothing of it. Skin cancer isn’t something that happens to young people, she thought.

They saw a dermatologist, who strongly recommended to have the mole removed right away and have it sent for biopsy.

The doctor removed the mole, and a few days after, the biopsy results came.

It was cancer.

Yes, age doesn’t matter in terms of skin cancer. You just need to look at the list of things that make someone fall into that “high risk” category in the first place.

Just a few of the most urgent risk factors for skin cancer include but are not limited to:

  • Someone who has a personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Someone who already has a large amount of moles on their skin
  • Someone with a skin type that is easily damaged by UV radiation
  • Someone who spends lots of time outdoors without using sunscreen or other proper protection
  • People who have used sunbeds in the past
  • People who work outdoors

None of these are exclusive to people who are in their 50s, 40s, or even 30s.

Skin cancer is on the rise among young people, not only in Australia but also in the United States and elsewhere around the world. In fact, about 7% of all melanoma cases diagnosed in the United States in 2014 occurred in people who were age 34 or younger.

Protect your kids from sunburn

Above: Make sure to protect your kids from sunburn

How to protect the young from skin cancer
If you’re a parent, there are two things you can do to help protect your children from the dangers of skin cancer.

1. Treat the topic seriously. Talk to them about the risks the same way you would unprotected sex or drink driving.

2. Protect your child from sunburn and long-term overexposure to the sun. Experts agree that the level of sun exposure that one receives during the first decade of their life partially determines their overall potential for skin cancer, so make the most out of these years. Keep in mind that for every decade that you spend overexposed to the sun, your risk of skin cancer increases. The first ten years develop your potential. Every decade after that determines whether or not that potential is realised.

3. Make sure your family is monitoring their own skin. And always wear sunscreen when outside, be sun smart, and don’t spend too much time in the sun. If you notice a change, go to your GP or skin cancer detection service.

Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, so we need to be extra-vigilant.

MoleMap: Early Detection Is Key
Since 2005, MoleMap has been a trusted provider of advanced melanoma detection and surveillance services in Australia. Using the most thorough and trusted skin cancer detection technology in the world, our registered nurse melanographers provide Spot Checks, Skin Checks, and Full Body MoleMaps. Our team of highly trained and independent dermatologists, who work remotely, are experts at diagnosing early stage melanoma.

Are you or your children susceptible to skin cancer? Use our free online assessment tool to determine your risk.

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