Lifestyle & Belief

Many melanoma survivors skip sunscreen, study says


Rick Johnson applies sunscreen during a visit to the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on June 20, 2006.


Joe Raedle

More than a quarter of melanoma survivors don't use sunscreen, and some even still use tanning beds, a new study shows.

The startling findings by the American Association for Cancer Research were presented at the group's annual meeting today in Washington, DC.

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While most patients who survive skin cancer listen to their doctor's skin-saving advice, an estimated 1 in 4 skip sunscreen -- even when outside for more than an hour, according to the study.

"We expected melanoma survivors to be extraordinarily protective, since we know sunlight exposure and tanning increases the risk of a second melanoma," researcher Anees Chagpar told NBC News. "But what was interesting was that over one quarter said they didn't use sunscreen. That blew my mind."

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Chagpar told USA Today she found the data on indoor tanning "especially shocking and concerning."

Howard Brooks, a dermatologist and director of Georgetown Skin in Washington, told CNN he wasn't that surprised by the study.

"In my patient population, I find that it is the younger patients that are not as compliant with SPF after a diagnosis," he said. "I think young people still feel that they are invincible. They still want to look good for the beach or summer, so they will risk getting a tan."

Study authors believe dermatologists may need to stress more the dangers of sun exposure and tanning beds to cancer survivors.