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'Shocking' number of melanoma survivors tan, don't wear sunscreen

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: January 14, 2014 - 11:57 AM

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, striking nearly 77,000 Americans each year and killing 9,500.

That's why doctors are concerned by new research that finds a surprising number of people who survive melanoma engage in risky behaviors after beating cancer, including not wearing sunscreen or visiting a tanning salon.

"We know that for many people with melanoma, sun exposure is a major risk factor for recurrence and sun protection may reduce their chances of getting melanoma again," said study author Dr. Anees B. Chagpar, an associate professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine. "Although we found that melanoma survivors did better than the general public at protecting their skin from the sun, we also found that more than a quarter of melanoma survivors never wear sunscreen," she said.

"That blew my mind."

The researchers found more than 27 percent of melanoma survivors skipped sunscreen when they went out, 15.5 percent reported rarely or never staying in the shade when outside, and 2 percent of survivors used indoor tanning beds even after a bout with cancer.

Chagpar said the tanning findings were especially "shocking and concerning," wondering if people might be "addicted" to tanning.

Read more from CBS News.

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