August 9, 2005

Skin cancer rate up for women under age 40-study

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The incidence of two types of skin
cancer has nearly tripled among women under age 40, a sign that
tanning is still popular among the young despite warnings about
the harm it can cause, researchers said on Tuesday.

The rate of basal cell and squamous cell cancers rose to 32
per 100,000 women under 40 in 2003 from 13 per 100,000 in the
late 1970s, their study said.

Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are the two most
common forms of the disease and can be removed and treated more
easily than the deadlier melanoma type.

"Tan is still accepted as a sign of health and a sign of
beauty and so changing that message is going to be important to
accept fair skin as very healthy and beautiful," said study
author Dr. Leslie Christenson of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester,

The study looked at some 500 skin cancer cases in
surrounding Olmsted County, Minnesota, where the population's
comprehensive health records are examined as part of the
clinic's Rochester Epidemiology Project.

Young women, especially, still use tanning beds and lie in
the sun despite health warnings about cumulative skin damage
from sun rays, Christenson said in a report published in the
Journal of the American Medical Association.

Among men under 40, the incidence of basal cell cancers did
not increase though the rate of squamous cell cancers among men
did rise, the study said. Christenson said that men may not pay
as much attention to their skin as women, and might not spot
the tell-tale discolored bumps as often.

Basal cell cancer usually appears as a pink bump on the
skin, which can be superficial or bleed and does not go away.
Squamous cell cancer can also look very pink, but it is usually
scaly and appears as a rough, raised bump.

In the United States, there were 800,000 new cases of basal
cell and 200,000 cases of squamous cell cancers diagnosed in
the year 2000.

Cases are increasing rapidly in people over age 50 as well,
the report said.