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Melanoma Rates Increasing Dramatically In People Under 40

Dr. Greg Daniels, director of UC San Diego's clinical program in melanoma, talks to KPBS about the increase in cases of melanoma.


Dr. Greg Daniels is a medical oncologist, he directs UC San Diego's clinical program in melanoma.


Detecting Melanoma

A new study from the Mayo Clinic found a dramatic increase in skin cancer among people under 40.

Between 1970 and 2009, first time diagnoses of melanoma increased eightfold among women and fourfold among men.

Dr. Greg Daniels, director of UC San Diego's clinical program in melanoma, talked to KPBS about reasons for this increase.

He said increased use of tanning beds is part of the problem, and that he recommends wearing protective clothing outside, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

However, he added, avoiding the sun altogether can also put you at risk.

"Chronic sun exposure tends not to be as bad as intermittent sun exposure," he said. "But how do you balance that? That's the big conundrum right now."

Daniels said studies have found rates of melanoma and deaths from melanoma were lower in those with chronic sun exposure than those who are only sometimes in the sun.

"How do we work chronic sun exposure into our lives?" he said. "I don't know about you, but my day is indoors and I'm lucky if I run to the parking lot to move my car to go someplace. So it's just not feasible."

Daniels suggested our increasingly indoor lifestyles could also be a reason for the melanoma increase found in the study.

He added that when looking for potentially cancerous moles to pay attention to the "ugly ducklings," which look different than other moles.

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