Increased Risk of Skin Cancer Among U.S. Military Veterans

As Military Appreciation Month and Skin Cancer Awareness Month come to a close, dermatologists raise awareness for a major health issue among U.S. military veterans. When people consider the potential risks associated with military service, skin cancer isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, research indicates that both active duty service members and veterans have an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

Deployed in the Middle East

Many veterans have been deployed all over the globe, seeing diverse terrain. Several U.S. military bases and facilities are located in the Middle East, including in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, and more. It’s not only the glaring desert sunlight in these countries that increases the risk of skin cancer among U.S. military personnel but also a lack of sun protection. 


Several factors contribute to the increased risk of skin cancer, including “not only the desert and more equatorial latitudes, but also the length of sunlight exposure day-to-day, and among many service members, a lack of training regarding sun exposure and limited access to sunscreen,” according to research done by Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Skin Cancer Risks for Veterans

A report published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology included a total of nine studies describing skin cancer incidence in the US military. Some of the key findings include:

  • An increased risk for melanoma is associated with service in the military or prisoner of war status.
  • Service in tropical environments was associated with an increased incidence of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer among World War II soldiers.
  • Increased melanoma risk was branch dependent, with the highest rates among the United States Air Force.
  • Officers had an increased rate of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers than enlisted soldiers.

Prevention and Early Detection

While skin cancer strikes one in five people in their lifetime, the good news is that skin cancer is the most preventable cancer, and 99 percent of all cases are curable if they are diagnosed and treated early enough. Here are steps you can take to detect skin cancer early:

 To keep your skin healthy, ForCare Medical Center recommends that you:

  • Examine your skin once a month to check for signs of skin cancer.
  • Schedule a full-body skin exam annually with your dermatologist.
  • Always be on the lookout for any new or suspicious spots on your skin, such as freckles or moles.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 30 containing zinc oxide 4%.
  • Cover up by wearing clothing and hats that protect your skin from UV rays.

Contact ForCare Medical Center

At ForCare, we can help you take great care of your skin through education, prevention, and treatments for all types of skin conditions, including all forms of skin cancer. It is important to receive regular skin cancer screenings for early detection and to ensure the best possible treatment if ever needed. 

ForCare is bringing a new skin cancer treatment to the Tampa Bay region called Superficial Electron Therapy. This treatment removes the skin cancer without having to actually perform surgery and has a 90 to 98 percent cure rate, according to the Cancer Center.


Dr. Forman, the owner of ForCare Medical Center, is currently building a section in the office for the new treatment and should be using the treatment in June.


To request a dermatology appointment with ForCare, click here or call (813) 773-2456.

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