Preventing Melanoma: What Can We Do?

by Kimberly Vanderpoel on May 24th, 2017






We can help change these numbers.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. In 2011, there were more than 65,000 cases of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and causes over 9,000 deaths every year. People who die of melanoma lose an average of 20 years of life expectancy. Melanoma can be caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from sun or sources such as indoor tanning. Without additional prevention efforts, melanoma will continue to increase in the next 15 years. We along with our community and policymakers can play a major role in these skin cancer prevention efforts.

Melanoma skin cancer is common and costly.

  • People of any skin color can get skin cancer and people with lighter skin are at higher risk.
  • More than 65,000 melanoma skin cancers were diagnosed in the US in 2011.
  • Melanoma can be disfiguring and even deadly; deaths increase with age and are higher for men than women.
  • The annual cost for treating melanoma has grown faster than the annual treatment costs for all cancers combined.
  • The annual cost of treating new melanoma patients is projected to triple from 2011 through 2030 (from $457 million to $1.6 billion).
  • Using proven community skin cancer prevention programs could prevent an estimated 21,000 melanomas and save $250 million per year by 2030.

Melanoma is increasing.

  • UV exposure causes more than 90% of melanomas in the US.
  • Tans and sunburns are the body’s response to damage from UV exposure. A tan is a sign of damaged skin.
  • More than 1 in 3 Americans report getting sunburned every year.
  • Indoor tanning exposes people to more intense UV rays than the sun. About 6,200 melanomas are estimated to be caused each year by indoor tanning.
  • Nearly 1 of 3 young non-Hispanic white women ages 16–25 uses indoor tanning each year.

What can WE do to protect ourselves?

  • Understand that tanned skin is damaged skin.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing outdoors.
  • Find shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher regularly and reapply as directed. Sunscreen is most effective when used with other sun protection (hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, shade).
  • Avoid sunbathing and indoor tanning.

What can WE do as a community?

  • Increase shade at playgrounds, public pools, and other public spaces.
  • Promote sun protection in recreation areas, including the use or purchase of hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
  • Encourage employers, childcare centers, schools, and colleges to educate employees and students about sun safety and skin protection.
  • Restrict the availability and use of indoor tanning by minors.



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