More than 9,000 people die each year from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Between 1982 and 2011 the rate of melanoma doubled according to a new report in Vital Signs. While other forms of cancer are decreasing, the number of new cases of melanoma is rising. If nothing is done, it will continue to rise. The authors of the report estimate that in 2030, there could be at least 112,000 new cases of melanoma - almost double the 65,000 new cases diagnosed in 2011.
Exposure to UV rays (from outdoor exposure to the sun or tanning equipment) plays a large part in developing skin cancer. At least 20 percent, or 21,000, of those are preventable if comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs were put in place.
It is important for individuals to protect their skin when out in the sun - wearing wide brimmed hats, sunglasses and protective clothing, using sunscreen and seeking shade between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm - but the report calls on the government, communities, schools and employers to do their part as well. Some of the recommendations include:
- Require health insurance companies to cover skin cancer prevention counseling at no out-of-pocket expense
- Requiring indoor tanning equipment to meet requirements for how they are made, carry visible warnings that those under 18 years of age should not use the equipment and have warnings on marketing materials
- Make sure playgrounds, public pools and other public areas have plenty of shade
- Promoting sun protection items, such as hats, sunscreen and sunglasses, including selling these items
- Encourage local employers to educate employees on sun safety
- Restrict the use of indoor tanning equipment for those under 18 years old
Schools, Daycares, Employers
- Provide shaded areas for when students and teachers are outdoors
- Reconsider bans on wearing hats outdoors or applying sunscreen before going outdoors
- Scheduling outdoor activities before 10:00 am or after 4:00 pm or relocate activities to areas where there is access to shade
- Discourage indoor tanning
- Provide education on the dangers of over-exposure to UV rays
With 9,000 lives (and growing) each year at risk of dying from melanoma, practicing and teaching sun safety is important. We each can take care of ourselves and our families but it is also necessary to reach out - talk to your employer, your child’s school and others about the importance of taking care of your skin.
For more information:
Skin Cancer Statistics: What You Need to Know
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.