Melanoma affects younger population, experts say

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    Spring break is a time of year when many students enjoy being in the sun, a decision that poses many risks. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer accounting for more than 50 percent of all cancers.

    More specifically, the ACS reported that melanoma, which tends to occur at a younger age than most cancers, accounts for more than 4 percent of skin cancer cases and causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

    Heather Masterson, 33, a former TCU student, was diagnosed with melanoma when she was 24.

    “I think most people have a misconception about skin cancer, and if you have a severe form of skin cancer and don’t find it in time, there is a slim chance that you will live for more than five years,” Masterson said. “My father-in-law died from melanoma, so it is a really serious issue in our family.”

    The ACS recommends using products with an SPF of 15 or more and staying out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..

    Jeff Marcinowski, a senior finance major and member of the golf team said, “It’s just a given that I should always put on sunscreen because I am a golfer and I am in the sun all of the time.”

    According to the ACS, the percentage of melanoma cases among white men and women has decreased from 6 percent to less than 3 percent since 1981, but it recommends that people should have moles that are a suspicious size, shape or color checked immediately.

    Masterson was suspicious about a black spot on her back and sure enough, even though she was only 24, her spot ended up being a malignant melanoma.

    Cynae Johnson, a junior nursing major, said she is aware of the risks of skin cancer and the importance of sun safety.

    “People are ignorant to the effects of the sun, not only how damaging it is to your skin, but how damaging it can be to your entire body,” Johnson said.

    Masterson recommended that everyone have their moles checked annually and should use precautions while in the sun.

    “Going to a dermatologist can save your life and because I was cautious, it saved my life,” Masterson said.