You would think that people who were diagnosed with melanoma -- the most deadly form of skin cancer -- would be meticulously careful about using sunscreen, avoiding tanning salons and generally protecting their skin.
You would be wrong, researchers said Monday.
Melanoma tumors develop in the skin cells that make melanin, the brown pigment that protects skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. It is the least common type of skin cancer, but it can be the most dangerous. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 76,690 people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, and that 9,480 people will die from it. (By contrast, the National Cancer Institute says there were more than 2 million new cases of other types of skin cancer last year, but fewer than 1,000 deaths.)
The biggest risk factor for melanoma is exposure to UV rays, either from sunlight or artificial sources such as tanning lamps. Patients who have been treated for melanoma should know this better than anyone.
And yet, 27.3% of melanoma survivors who answered the 2010 National Health Interview Survey said they never wore sunscreen. Never.
“That blew my mind,” Dr. Anees Chagpar of Yale University, who analyzed the data with colleagues, said in a statement describing the study.