JOPLIN, MO.--- The American Association for Cancer Research found that getting five or more blistering sunburns before the age of 20 may increase a person's risk of developing skin cancer.
"There are different types of rays. There is UVA and UVB. UVB you get more from the sun, where the UVA rays you get more from the tanning beds," said Mary Ann Devoe, Freeman Cancer Institute Nurse Practitioner.
Freeman Nurse Practitioner Mary Ann Devoe says the damage can be equal, and any type of repeated damage can cause cancer.
"Cigarette smoking, the longer you smoke can cause lung cancer. The high intensity cigarettes is more than likely going to cause lung cancer, so you can relate that to the sun," said Devoe.
She says when you have damage at a younger age, you're more likely to have ongoing damage throughout your life. It increasing your chances of getting melanoma by 80%.
"So they are showing that the damage before 20 years of age can be in the long term much more damaging in the future," she said.
Devoe says skin cancer can potentially be any change in a mole or new skin area. Anything bigger than a pencil eraser or larger than a freckle with an irregular shape can also be a sign of skin cancer.
"You look for things like the color of it. A mole should only be one color. It should not have multiple colors or even different shades of brown should not be present in one mole," she said.
National numbers estimate 76,000 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer just this year.
"It's frightening to think of melanoma because it can be a fatal disease. In one way of looking at it, it's one of those that really can be preventable," she said.
Health experts says skin cancer is more predominant in men. Patients as young as 18-years-old have been diagnosed with skin cancer here in the Four States.
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