People who have survived melanoma were more likely to protect themselves from sun exposure than those who hadn’t experienced the disease, but a significant portion of them still reported getting a sunburn in the past year, among other behaviors that might increase the risk of a new cancer.
The study, which appears Thursday in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, included 724 cancer survivors who had been diagnosed with melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, between July 2004 and December 2007.
Researchers also surveyed 660 people who hadn’t had melanoma but who were similar in age and gender to the cancer survivors. The study, conducted in 2015, relied on self-reports, which means some people may have overestimated their positive behaviors, and it captures only one point in time. So it’s not possible to say whether a given cancer survivor changed his or her sun exposure behavior after diagnosis.
You can look at the results two ways: On the positive side, the survivors were on average doing better at protecting themselves from sun exposure than people who hadn’t had skin cancer. For example, 34 percent of survivors reported spending more than an hour outside on summer weekdays, compared with 44 percent of those in the control group.