Educating people of all ages, particularly children, about the dangers of sun exposure is urgent to preventing the increased prevalence of melanoma and skin cancer, the Skin Cancer Foundation reported in a press release.
The foundation said that about 80% of lifetime ultraviolet (UV) exposure occurs before a child turns 18, and up to 90% of skin damage is caused by the sun.
Over the past 30 years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. About 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Today, one in five Americans develop skin cancer at some point in their lives.
However, less than 10% of all Americans wear sunscreen daily. With summer quickly approaching and May 2017 designated as Skin Cancer Awareness Month, now is the time to learn about how to protect yourself from the sun’s potential dangers.
The American Cancer Society said that melanoma rates in the U.S. have increased during the last 30 years, now reaching epidemic levels. Melanoma is currently the most common cancer in young adults, surpassing lung cancer.
DermalYouth, an organization that brings preventive healthcare education and products to people of all ages, wants to use Skin Cancer Awareness Month to help spread the word about premature aging, skin damage, and skin cancer, and to warn people to take proper steps to protect themselves from the sun every day.
Supported by other members of the community, the Skin Cancer Foundation and DermalYouth will focus on sun safety in schools during this month’s initiatives.
To get involved in raising awareness for sun safety in schools, the foundation offers some tips:
- Approaching your school: Meet with the principal and ask about establishing a sun safety committee within the school administration or raise the issue at a meeting of your school’s parent-teacher association (PTA). Many schools have tax-exempted organizations affiliated with the PTA and the group might provide greater financial flexibility and stability with fundraising for sun safety projects.
- Mobilizing a sun safety committee: Focus on strategic planning, identifying and ranking goals, and deciding how to allocate the funds raised. If you can get a shade structure it is certainly desirable, but certain permanent shade structures must meet architectural criteria and be installed by union labor. That can be costly. Other strategies might be far less expensive and might even be more effective, such as promoting hats and long clothing, encouraging sunscreen use, and supporting classroom safety instructions.
- Approaching the Board of Education: Work together to add a sun safety policy draft to the formal agenda of a board meeting. While this route might be elusive, most districts allow “public comment” at board meetings, so ask for an opportunity to speak. If possible, enlist a dermatologist to address the board. If your appeal is successful, the board might direct the proposal to a future meeting and open the door to working with the superintendent on a new policy proposal.
More information about sun safety strategies (including a how-to-manual) can be found on the foundation’s website.
The overall goal is to prevent, pay attention, and remember that skin cancer is generally easy to treat if caught early. Don’t forget your sunscreen, and pay attention to shape-shifting moles or marks.