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Skin Cancer: What Young Adults Need to Know

For many teens and young adults, summer is a time to hit the beach or pool and enjoy some outdoor fun. Sunscreen is an afterthought—if it’s thought of at all. After all, only older people can get skin cancer, right?

Not so fast. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 7 percent of melanoma cases diagnosed in 2014 happened in people ages 34 and younger. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults, especially among women. In fact, the Melanoma Research Foundation reports that melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death for women ages 25 to 30.

Some more scary facts: In 2015, about 74,000 new melanoma cases will be diagnosed in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Almost 10,000 people will die from it.

Despite advances in sun safety awareness, many young people are still lax about using sunscreen and practicing other “safe sun” habits. In a CDC survey, only 37 percent of women ages 18 to 29 said they regularly used sunscreen, and only 33 percent of men in the same age range said they wore long sleeves or pants while working outdoors to prevent sunburn. Young people, especially women, are also still very likely to use tanning beds.

If these facts and figures aren’t convincing enough, take a few minutes to watch a pair of short videos. Samantha’s husband worked outdoors for most of his life, and enjoyed outdoor activities like fishing and hunting. He died of melanoma at the age of 28. Terri loved tanning and using tanning beds when she was younger. Since then, she’s had seven skin care surgeries on her face—one of which required 100 stitches.

For more information on good sun safety practices and skin cancer warning signs, as well as other valuable tips, visit