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UV photos ID melanoma risks in kids


Denver — Results of a new study suggest that ultraviolet photography can identify melanoma risk in young people that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye.

Medical News Today reports that the study is the first to show that the amount of sun damage shown in UV photographs is correlated with other melanoma risk factors, such as skin color, freckles, and hair and eye color.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center recorded UV, standard visible and cross-polarized photographs for 585 12-year-old children. According to the study abstract, investigators quantified sun damage using computer software after recording full-body nevus counts, skin color by colorimetry, facial freckling, and color of hair and eyes. Demographics were collected in parental interviews.

“Among 12-year-old children, sun damage shown in UV photographs correlated with phenotypic melanoma risk factors,” the authors wrote in the abstract. “Sun damage was greatest for children who were non-Hispanic white and those who had red hair, blue eyes, increased facial freckling, light skin and greater number of nevi. Results were similar for standard visible and cross-polarized photographs. Freckling was the strongest predictor of sun damage in visible and UV photographs. All other phenotypic melanoma risk factors were also predictors for the UV photographs.

“This study establishes reference ranges dermatologists can use to assess sun damage in their pediatric patients,” the authors concluded.

Noting that previous studies have shown how sunspots seen in UV photographs can be used to motivate sun-protection behaviors, Medical News Today quotes lead author Ryan Gamble, M.D., as saying, “Primary care physicians could use UV photographs with children and young teens to provide better sun-protection counseling (so that) much of the occurrence of the disease and its complications can be prevented.”

The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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