Melanoma prevention starts in youth - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Melanoma prevention starts in youth

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(Dykas photo) (Dykas photo)

May is Melanoma Awareness Month. 

As people head out to start their day with the sun shining, there are things to consider to stay safe under those rays, especially when it comes to children.

Channel 3 spoke to an expert at Hartford Hospital.

Laura Napoletano said she had her moment when she realized she was going to always wear sunscreen.

"I've had facial skin cancer that was removed and you get a warning and you take it to heart and you put it on," Napoletano said. 

She wants her grandson to always use it too.

"Yes I think its really important because you never know when they're going to be outside," she said. "The more they can get the coverage, the better they're going to be in the long run."

Dr. Omar Eton is the medical director of the melanoma program at Hartford Hospital. He said Napoletano has the right idea.

"Getting a blistery sunburn before the age of 12 is directly correlated to future risk of Melanoma," Eton said. 

Melanoma accounts for about 1 percent of all skin cancers diagnosed in the U.S., but it causes most of the skin cancer deaths. 

Doctor Eton said there are three essential things you to know: 

1. Know the risk factors.

"Fair skinned people, redheads freckled folks, people with lots of moles, people with a family history of melanoma those people are pretty aware," Eton said. "Those are the ones who are more likely to get melanoma."

2. Check your skin, especially your back.

"If you see moles that are changing in size changing in color, God forbid they are bleeding," Eton said. "You're next stop is to the dermatologist or your primary care doctor."

3. Wear protective clothing and sunscreen with SPF 30, anything higher is not worth it.

Eton said there's an epidemic now of melanoma in men and women 65 years and older. The best way to prevent it starts in childhood.

"It's very important that mothers don't allow their little ones to go out under the age of 12 between the time of 10 a.m. 3 p.m. without some sort of protective clothing and suntan lotion," he said.

It’s also important to note, Eton wanted everyone to know a little bit of sun is good.

Channel 3 asked him if people should put sunscreen on their kids before they go to school. He said it’s not necessary if they’re only going to be outside during those peak hours for a short recess.

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