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Melanoma Patients Increase Sun Exposure After Diagnosis

Although UV radiation is the number one environmental risk factor for developing cutaneous malignant melanoma, a recent study shows that most melanoma patients exhibit more risky sun tanning behavior and UVR exposure after their initial skin cancer diagnosis

This study followed 20 patients and 20 controls through three summers after their diagnosis. Patients and controls were matched according to sex, age, occupation, and skin type. Information was gathered through sun diaries as well as a personal electronic UVR dosimeters that measured time-related UVR. The sun diaries tracked sunscreen application, holidays, sunbathing, and shoulder and upper body exposure, among other things.

Rather than taking extra precaution to prevent exposure after developing cutaneous malignant melanoma, both patients’ daily UVR dose and UVR dose in connection to various behaviors increased. Daily exposure rose 25% from the first to second summer and 33% from the first to third. After the second year, patients’ UVR dose was higher than the controls, and no difference was found in the number of days with body exposure or number of days using sunscreen in the second and third years. Exposure was higher on vacation days and when traveling abroad.

What makes this particularly alarming is that patients with cutaneous malignant melanoma are at an increased risk of developing a second primary melanoma. While some patients lowered their UVR intake the first year of their diagnosis, research shows that this behavior did not last. Based on this information, it is a high priority for health care providers to help implement continual risk awareness and long-term UVR reduction practices.

Sources: 1, 2

Image: Marjan Lazarevski 


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