Skin Cancer Not Just Targeting Older People

Saturday, June 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Skin cancer has a new victim-young people.

Dermatologists say their clients aren't as old as they used to be.

Sun Safety is an issue with the 18 to thirty crowd, and doctors say they’re the ones who are having skin cancers removed.

It's the busy season for dermatologists as people wear less clothing and see their skin more.

Doctors say skin cancer is hitting an age group that sometimes sees itself as invincible.

It's hard to hide from the sun, especially in the summer when the water is so refreshing and the golf course so green.

But it can be costly. Thousands of people pay the price every year and that number is going up so quickly that it's alarming those in the medical field.
"It was a spot on my arm. I had it removed. It was a mole and they were concerned about it,” says Tammy Fleak, golfer.

Tammy Fleak's mole turned out to be benign, but not everyone is so lucky.

Dermatologists say they see the cases of skin cancer are really on the rise in thirtysomethings and Generation Xers.

“Usually, what we see now instead of the 60 or 70 year old person who has been working outdoors all their lives we're seeing the 18 to 30 year old who has been to tanning beds for several years or laying out who has one, if not multiple skin cancers,” says Dr. Mark Lehman, Dermatologist.

Everyone has heard the warnings, but are we scared enough to do anything about it?

"It's just our society, tan is in, we just all want to look really good so we pay the price," says Jan Davis, golfer.

"I don't think until someone actually gets a mole or skin cancer that it's actually a concern to them” says Mike Harper, golfer.

Dr. Mark Lehman says that most skin cancers aren't deadly if they're caught soon enough.

He says there are things to look for: an irregular shaped mole, one with varied color or a diameter larger than a pencil eraser.

“I think it's a probably a good idea when they notice new things coming up, places not healing when they've had a close family member who has had a skin cancer and get some education and guidance on what to look for" says Lehman.

Dermatologists say they are excited about new technology just approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s called Photodynamic Therapy.

Instead of cutting the skin to remove the cancer, a chemical is applied to the cancer and a laser is used to destroy it.

No word on when that technology will reach Tulsa, but dermatologists say it is coming.