Posted on September 24, 2012 at 6:17 PM
Tuesday, Sep 25 at 7:56 AM
AUSTIN -- Dermatologists are calling it an epidemic. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.
A study by the American Academy of Dermatology shows after 20 years, people still aren't protecting themselves from the sun they way they should.
Dr. Adam Mamelak spends his days at Sanova Dermatology in Northwest Austin screening patients for the one thing he hopes not to find.
“Skin cancer takes lives,” Dr. Mamelak said. “I have taken skin cancers off 20 year olds, 18 year olds that go to tanning salons three, four times a week.”
Dr. Mamelak says the recent rise in skin cancer is alarming, especially given the fact that for years a campaign to get people to wear broad spectrum sunscreen has been going strong.
Contrary to popular belief, skin cancer doesn't discriminate.
“There's a flaw in our approach," Dr. Mamelak said. “Despite the fact that we talk about this, despite the fact that people know about sunscreen, we're not changing people's behavior, and that's a problem. I have seen skin cancer in East Indian people. I've seen skin cancer in Middle Eastern people. I've seen skin cancer in African American people. In a skin cancer epidemic, the rates are out of control.”
Dr. Mamelak says you should look for a non-healing sore on the skin or an irregular mole, and it doesn't always show up on a part of the body exposed to the sun.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. In fact, one person dies of skin cancer every hour in the U.S.
Now Dr. Mamelak is offering free skin cancer screens to anyone in the community, hoping to possibly save more lives.
“I'm in a position where I can actually do something to change this,” Dr. Mamelak said. “If I can catch this early, I can help people. If it's caught late, despite all the advances we've had, I just can't do anything for these people.”
Click here for Consumer Report's guide to buying sunscreen.