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Melanoma cases among young people on the rise

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- The statistics are frightening: one in 54 people will be diagnosed with invasive melanoma.

According to Dr. Mary Noel George, a dermatologist with SSM Health DePaul Hospital, there is a correlation between the number of severe sunburns a person has as a child and teen and the development of melanoma. This correlation has led to an increase in the cases of young people with melanoma.

The lifetime risk for in situ melanoma, which involves only the top layers of skin but can become invasive has risen even more rapidly, from one in 78 people in 2009 to one in 58 today. The odds of developing either type of melanoma, in situ or invasive, over a lifetime is shockingly high: one in 28 people will eventually be diagnosed. More people will also die from melanoma. In 2016, the disease is expected to claim 10,130 lives, a significant jump from 8,650 deaths in 2009.

Dr. George advises young people to reduce sun exposure, seek shade outdoors, avoid tanning beds, and wear sunscreen and sun protective clothing. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends going for a yearly exam so that a health care provider can screen for early signs of skin cancer. If you see a suspicious mole, especially one that changes, itches or bleeds, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is more treatable when spotted early.