SKIN CANCER AMONG KIDS IS ON THE RISE, CAUSED BY TOO MUCH SUN OR INDOOR TANNING BEDS.
DOCTORS SAY CASES ARE INCREASING AT AN ALARMING RATE. TONIGHT'S HEALTHCAST HAS MORE ON THE GROWING PROBLEM AND WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW.
WHAT YOU THINK IS A HARMLESS MOLE OR FRECKLE ON YOUR CHILD COULD BE DEADLY.
"I had a mole right here on my collarbone."
"Wasn't scary, wasn't black, wasn't irregular, wasn't very large."
"I thought I had the mole my whole life."
BUT COMPETITIVE DANCER VALERIE BRAATEN'S MOLE WASN'T A BIRTHMARK. IN FACT, IT WASN'T HERE IN HER SIXTH GRADE PICTURE. IN HER FRESHMAN PHOTO --THERE IT IS.
"And they told us that the mole was malignant melanoma stage two."
DOCTOR MARK RANALLI SAYS HE'S SEEN A TWO-TO-THREE-PERCENT INCREASE NATIONALLY IN CASES OF KIDS WITH SKIN CANCER.
"That increase is at a rate that is actually greater than the rate of increase in any other malignancy that we currently treat."
KEEPING KIDS AWAY FROM TANNING BEDS AND LIMITING SUN EXPOSURE CAN PROTECT THEM FROM MELANOMA, BUT A RECENT SURVEY OF 360 EIGTH-GRADERS FOUND ONLY 25-PERCENT USED SUNSCREEN IF THEY WERE OUTSIDE FOR MORE THAN SIX HOURS. 40-PERCENT OF THEM WENT OUTSIDE JUST TO GET A TAN.
"The problem is a tan is also a sign of injury to the skin."
RANALLI SAYS ALL IT TAKES IS THREE SEVERE SUNBURNS BEFORE THE AGE OF 20 TO SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE THE RISK OF MELANOMA.
HE URGES PARENTS TO KEEP AN EYE ON ANY MOLES OR FRECKLES AND TO WATCH OUT FOR THESE A-B-C'S OF THE DISEASE: ASYMMETRY, BORDERS, COLOR, DIAMETER AND EVOLUTION.
VALERIE'S MELANOMA WAS CAUGHT EARLY BECAUSE HER FRIENDS NOTICED THE MOLE WAS GROWING.
TODAY, SHE'S CANCER-FREE AND IS VIGILANT ABOUT PROTECTING HER SKIN.
SOME STATES ARE TAKING ACTION TO CURB SKIN CANCER IN KIDS. CALIFORNIA RECENTLY BECAME THE FIRST STATE TO BAN CHILDREN UNDER 18 FROM USING TANNING BEDS.
IN NORTH CAROLINA, THE DERMATOLOGY ASSOCIATION IS TRYING TO RE-INTRODUCE A BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE KIDS UNDER 18 TO HAVE A DOCTOR'S PRESCRIPTION TO USE TANNING BEDS.
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