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Skin cancer on the rise among US troops

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Posted at 6:18 PM, May 24, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — 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 percent 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 ForCare 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.

Well, there’s a new treatment out there and it’s coming to the Tampa Bay region. It’s called Superficial Electron Therapy.

Dr. Forman will be the first doctor in the Bay area to offer the treatment.

“Electrons have energy, and the energy itself is what’s targeting the skin cancer and the cancer cells," he said. “It removes the skin cancer without having to actually do surgery.”

The electron therapy has a 90 to 98 percent cure rate, according to the Cancer Center.

Dr. Forman is currently building a new section to his office for the treatment. Construction should be completed in the next few weeks, and he plans to start using the treatment in June.