According to a study from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers, children whose progenitors survived melanoma are not adequately using sun protection. This is especially alarming, as these children have an increased genetic predisposition to develop this type of malignancy during adulthood.
The research team, led by Dr. Beth Glenn, used the California Cancer Registry, which contains all cancer cases registered within the state, to identify and survey a total of 300 melanoma survivors that have children younger than 17 years of age. The research was aimed at Latino and non-Latino white melanoma survivors.
The survey designed by the team contained information such as parent’s views concerning melanoma prevention, the degree of risk they considered their children to have and sun protection approaches for their children.
The majority of parents seemed to rely on sunscreen to minimize sun’s deleterious effects on their children. However, only a small percentage of progenitors said they would also make their children wear hats, sunglasses or seek shade for sun protection. In addition, 43% of parents said their child had already experienced a sunburn.
“Sunburns were common among the children in our study despite their elevated risk for skin cancer. Also, children of Latino survivors were just as likely as children of non-Latino white survivors to have experienced a recent sunburn, which highlights the importance of including this group in our work,” Dr. Glenn, associate professor of Health Policy and Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said in a news release.
The results, published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention journal, will help the team apply for extra funding that will allow the development of an intervention program combining a text message reminder system, that will contain educational information for both parents and children.
“Protecting kids against the sun’s harmful rays at an early age is vitally important. Our goal is to develop an intervention that will help parents protect their children today and help children develop sun safe habits that will reduce their risk for skin cancer in the future,” Dr. Glenn concluded.