Despite their high risk, children of melanoma survivors are not adhering to sun-protection recommendations, a new study suggests.
The research appears online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers used the California Cancer Registry to identify and survey 300 melanoma survivors with children ages 17 and younger during a 3-year period. The study targeted both Latino melanoma survivors and non-Latino, white melanoma survivors.
Researchers asked parents about their attitudes toward melanoma prevention, how at risk for melanoma they believed their child to be, and their current use of sun-protection strategies for their child. They found that many parents relied on sunscreen to protect their child against sun exposure, and fewer parents reported that their child wore a hat or sunglasses or attempted to seek shade when exposed to the sun.
Additionally, 43% of parents surveyed reported that their child experienced a sunburn in the past year.
“Sunburns were common among the children in our study despite their elevated risk for skin cancer,” says study author Beth Glenn, PhD, associate professor of Health Policy and Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “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,” said Glenn, who also serves as associate director of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Healthy and At-Risk Populations Research Program.
The survey results will be used to apply for additional funding to develop an intervention program that combines a text message reminder system with educational materials and activities for parents and children. “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,” Glenn says.