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Is 24 too young to start worrying about skin cancer?


"Not any longer," says Kenneth Dorsey, M.D. "Skin cancer used to be considered an affliction typically reserved for those 50 or older, but lately I've noticed a scary shift to increasingly younger patients, including some in their 20s."

Dr. Dorsey believes this trend could be related to younger patients sunbathing to achieve suntans for cosmetic reasons. "Many are under the misconception that tans are a sign of good health, but dermatologists know that sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer, including melanoma - the most dangerous form."

Dr. Dorsey advises anyone exposed to the harsh Texas sun to apply sunscreen even on cloudy days. "Up to 40 percent of the sun's ultraviolet rays can penetrate overcast skies," he says. "A broad-spectrum sunscreen that reflects both UVA and UVB rays is required for proper protection."

He also suspects the increasing use of tanning beds may be to blame for the damage he's seeing among younger patients.

"Tanning beds deliver a concentrated flow of UV rays that is 7 to 10 times stronger than the sun's," he says. "I would like everyone - young and old - to be aware that they could be damaging their skin in this manner."

Early detection is the key to successful treatment.

"If you notice a suspicious or changing pigmentation on your skin, get examined by a board-certified dermatologist," concludes Dr. Dorsey, who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – West and Meyerland Plaza.​