Two important things that we know about skin cancer are that it’s relatively easy to prevent and that it’s almost always curable if it’s caught early. This puts us in an incredibly powerful position because it means that we, as individuals, are able to take control and change the course of the disease.
Even if you have no medical education at all, you can still teach people about how to stay safe in the sun and why it’s important to screen their skin regularly. Read on to find out how you can make a positive impact in the battle against skin cancer.
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Skin cancer education and awareness have changed the way that we look at spending time in the sun and improved skin cancer screening efforts.
Since it was proved that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is responsible for around 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 86% of melanomas¹, many schools have made it compulsory for children to wear broad-brimmed hats when outside at school, both during recess and while playing sports. Some schools advise children to wear sunscreen and provide sunscreen at school.
Free skin cancer screening clinics² have been set up across America. Since 1985, these clinics have conducted more than 2.8 million free skin cancer screenings, with more than 278,000 suspicious lesions detected and more than 31,500 suspected melanomas. This has saved countless lives.
In 2014, UV tanning devices (tanning beds) were classified as Class II carcinogens by the FDA because of their link to causing skin cancers, specifically melanomas. It is now illegal for people under 18 to use indoor tanning devices without a prescription in 18 states as well as the District of Columbia. We have seen the effect of this.
In the past decade, although the number of melanoma cases has continued to rise, the incidence of new cases in people under the age of 40 has actually decreased by around 4% per year³.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month each year. This month is used as an opportunity to raise awareness among the general public of the prevalence of skin cancer. It is also a chance to educate people on how to safely spend time in the sun.
Skin Cancer Awareness Month is when many of the larger skin cancer foundations and organizations do much of their fundraising. Fundraising is important because the money raised is used both to educate people about skin cancer and raise awareness of the importance of screening and prevention. It is also used to support those with a skin cancer diagnosis who are struggling with the costs of treatment.
Skin cancer colors
The official ribbon color for melanoma is a black ribbon. This is the most commonly used ribbon to show support for those with skin cancer.
Social media is an excellent tool for spreading information fast and effectively. Good social media posts have a wide impact and can reach a large audience.
There is a Skin Cancer Foundation #ShareTheFacts toolkit⁴ that you can utilize to post skin cancer awareness facts and prevention advice on social media. It contains a range of infographics with verified facts and figures that are simple to download and post.
Becoming an advocate for skin cancer prevention⁵ gives you the opportunity to push for changes in legislation to improve skin cancer outcomes and take action in the fight against skin cancer.
Younger people can become involved by becoming Safe Skin Ambassadors at school or college.
Become someone who actively educates people about skin cancer prevention. You can join The Big See® campaign, which empowers people to get to know their skin and check themselves in the mirror regularly for skin cancer. It’s based on the premise that skin cancer is the one cancer that you are able to actually see, so it’s easy for you to empower yourself to prevent it.
You could also start educating younger people about skin cancer. Sun Smart U is an educational program to help teachers expose students to the importance of sun protection and give them the tools they need to prevent skin cancer.
Have you had skin cancer or had a loved one who has been diagnosed with skin cancer? Tell the story of how skin cancer has affected your life. People connect with personal stories.
By telling your skin cancer story, you can help to build a community that supports people with skin cancer and actively works to raise awareness around how skin cancer can affect your life. Use the hashtag #ThisIsSkinCancer.
As with anything, it costs money to spread awareness and educate people. Although many organizations that work to raise skin cancer awareness receive some government funding, they are largely dependent on donations.
The more funds and resources that they have at their disposal, the more they are able to spread the word about skin cancer and educate people on how to prevent it or screen for it.
There are many opportunities to raise or donate money to organizations that help to spread awareness about skin cancer or support those who have skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics | Skin Cancer Foundation
Free Skin Cancer Screenings | American Academy of Dermatology Association
Skin Cancer Facts & Statistics | Skin Cancer Foundation
Skin Cancer Awareness Toolkit | Skin Cancer Foundation
Mobilize to increase awareness and funding for skin cancer and melanoma. | National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention
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