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Skin cancer rates on the rise among U.S. troops

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Posted at 8:18 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 23:26:41-04

TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) -- May is Military Appreciation Month and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so doctors are raising awareness for a major issue they say is a growing concern for U.S. Troops.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men and women in the military are 60% more likely to get skin cancer.

“I’m not shocked by that. We spend a lot of time in the sun,” said Marine Veteran Roy Breitenbach.

Breitenbach is in his 80s. He has Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and he’s been battling skin cancer for 15 years.

“It’s the consequence of being out in the sun," he said. “And back then there was no such thing as sunblock. We were just out in the sun.”

Dermatologists said that’s one of the main reasons veterans around Roy's age are diagnosed with skin cancer.

“People get long-term exposure to the sun, then years later develop skin cancer,” said Dr. Seth Forman.

He owns the Fore Care Medical Center. About 10 of his patients are veterans. He said the disease is also impacting men and women in the military.

Most skin cancer patients go through several different treatments and surgeries, and sometimes cancer returns.

“You will find patients in their 60s and 70s who have had 10 to 20 surgeries for skin cancer, and they’re sick of it," Dr. Forman said.

This story originally reported by JJ Burton on ABCActionNews.com.