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Sunburn on the rise, raising risk of skin cancer

Melanoma Monday aims to raise awareness of skin cancer
Melanoma Monday aims to raise awareness of skin cancer 02:16

Skin cancer remains one the most common types of cancer but also one of the most preventable. Dermatologists warn a recent survey finds not enough people are taking the right precautions, raising their risk of skin damage.

The latest survey by the American Academy of Dermatology reveals more than one-third of adults reported getting a sunburn last year, the highest number since 2020.

Doctors also warn sunburns in childhood and adolescence can raise the risk of developing melanoma later in life. It's a concern that's now top of mind for mother of three Abby Weiner, who was diagnosed with melanoma last October.

"I had a spot right under my eye that was a freckle I had had always," she said.

She didn't think much of it at first until her older sister implored her to get checked. "In her big sister way said, "I really think something looks funny; it doesn't look like a freckle to me," said Weiner.

The melanoma required two procedures to remove, fortunately it was caught early before spreading.

"Skin cancer at its earliest stages is very curable. Melanoma at its earliest stage has a 99% cure rate," said Dr. Maral Skelsey of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington.

Dr. Skelsey urges her patients to do a head-to-toe self-check once a month. Red flags can include asymmetric borders of a mole, color change, or a diameter larger than a pencil eraser.

"The number one thing to look for is something that is new or changing," she said. "Anything that is new or changing and stays there for about six weeks should be examined by your dermatologist."

Doctors say early detection and prevention are key. Abby Weiner says her new normal includes more frequent skin checks, wearing hats and lots of sunscreen.

"Now sunscreen is part of the same way I brush my teeth and the same way I brush my pair; it's part of the daily routine of how I take care of myself," said said.

Doctors also urge children and adults to wear sun protective clothing, sunglasses and seek shade whenever possible.

The American Academy of Dermatology has more tips on how to protect yourself.

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