For the third year, members of the NC Dermatology Association as well as several nurses volunteered their time last week to offer free skin cancer screening at the General Assembly. This year, they screened a total of 91 people including 13 legislators. They did report identifying several suspicious areas and urged the individuals to visit their doctor to follow-up.
This year’s event held special significance as the Youth Skin Cancer Prevention Act or “ban the tan” bill (House Bill 18), which would prohibit minors under age 18 from using indoor tanning facilities, is eligible for consideration in the Senate. The House passed the bill last session with strong bipartisan support.
The NC Dermatology Association, NC Pediatric Society, the NC Medical Society (NCMS), the American Cancer Society, NC Oncology Association, NC Child Fatality Task Force, AIM At Melanoma, the NC Advisory Committee on Cancer Coordination and Control – and a variety of national and international health organizations – support the bill.
The tanning industry itself has come out in favor of HB18 with the American Suntanning Association – an indoor tanning industry group – and Planet Beach, one of the nation’s largest tanning franchises, now in support of its passage.
At a press conference held in conjunction with the Skin Cancer Screening Day at the General Assembly, dermatologists and other members of the coalition of organizations supporting the bill made the following points, which were reported in several media outlets throughout the state:
- Scientific studies have repeatedly confirmed that indoor tanning causes skin cancer, including melanoma, which can be fatal.
- Research from the American Cancer Society shows that young people who start indoor tanning before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by almost 59 percent.
- Even a single use of a tanning bed increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another 2 percent. The ultraviolet radiation from a tanning bed can be as much as 15 times stronger than the sun and provides a massive dose of radiation in a very short time.
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old. More than a quarter of 17-year-olds in the United States and 21 percent of 16-year-olds have used indoor tanning facilities.
- Melanoma is expensive: the estimated total direct cost associated with the treatment of melanoma in 2010 in the US was $2.36 billion – and climbing.
Watch the NCMS website and the Bulletin for updates on the progress of this legislation.