Just one sunburn can double your lifetime risk of melanoma


Doctors tend to patients with bad sunburns, or even sun blisters every summer. We have a refresher on summer skin care, and the risks for those who avoid it.

Summer time means plenty of days at the pool, the park, or on the water. 

But even small amount of time in the sun can have some long lasting consequences.

Laura Archuleta, M.D.; Family Physician: “A lot of people think, you know, because I haven’t had repetitive burns, I’m not at higher risk for melanoma but even one sunburn, to the point of peeling definitely does raise lifetime risk of melanoma skin cancers.”

Doctor Archuleta says there’s a simple way to know when it’s time to pay your doctor a visit.

Laura Archuleta, M.D.; Family Physician: “I like the ‘ugly duckling’ theory, which basically says that most of a persons moles tend to look pretty similar. So if you’ve got one that’s vastly different from anything else that’s on your body, that’s the one that your doctor should look at.”

According to the CDC, one childhood sunburn nearly doubles your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Making it incredibly important to lather up the sunscreen when you’re out on those sunny days.

As cancer research progresses, it’s easy to see how much the safety standards have changed over the decades.

Kent Stumpe; visiting Bismarck: “We put sun tan lotion on, but no, I don’t think there was sunscreen.”

And of course, the inevitable occurred.

Kent Stumpe; visiting Bismarck: “In my age group, when we were kids, it was typical that we’d get a couple of good sunburns a year.”

But even younger generation are still learning the hard way, that sun protection is essential.

Chris Fleck says he’s just recovering from last week’s burn.

Chris Fleck; Century High Senior: “There was a little bit of peeling.”

He says the peeling skin isn’t enough to scare him and his friends of skin cancer.

Chris Fleck; Century High Senior: “I mean, not really, I don’t think we ever question that. But definitely need to bring some sunscreen.”

With a topic as serious as skin cancer, a few extra minutes of application are well worth the trouble.

Kent Stumpe; visiting Bismarck: “I’ve had some basal cell cancer and had to have it cut out.”

Experts recommend you keep tabs on the UV index when the sun’s out. 

States in the northern region have some of the highest rates of melanoma. Each year, over 70-thousand people are diagnosed and about 9-thousand die from the disease.


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