06/06/2013 09:53 EDT | Updated 08/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Skin Cancer On The Rise In B.C.


Skin cancer is on the rise — especially the most deadly variety called melanoma — with young women and older men being especially vulnerable.

Doctors say 950 British Columbians will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. They're especially worried about young people who use tanning beds.

"For individuals under the age of 30, tanning bed exposure may contribute up to about 75 per cent of melanomas that we're seeing," says dermatologist Dr. Jason Rivers.

"So to make the statement that tanning beds are completely safe is not based on any evidence that I'm aware of," he added.

Last year, indoor tanning was banned in B.C. for people under 18 years old, but Rivers thinks those restrictions don't go far enough.

Another group with rising skin cancer rates is men over 50.

Rivers says that's likely because men are more likely to spend long hours outdoors without a shirt on, and they are less likely to go for regular checkups.

He says most skin cancers are detected first by the individual or a family member, so he urges partners or other relatives to conduct regular checks.

"At least look at their back to see if there's a spot that's standing out that looks really different," Rivers said.

- Do you know the warning signs of skin cancer?

The survival rate is high for even the deadliest form, melanoma, if it's caught early, he added.

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