By Ronald L. Moy, MD, AAD President, May 02, 2011
It’s May, and for the 17th year in a row, the Academy celebrated Melanoma Monday, kicking off a month-long opportunity to draw public attention to the importance of skin cancer detection and prevention. This year we conducted a study of the tanning knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of Caucasian young women aged 14-22 — a group that is seeing rates of melanoma climb faster than their male counterparts.
The data from the survey, some of which appears in the Facts at Your Fingertips column, was shared with major media outlets on Melanoma Monday. We found that 31.6 percent of respondents had used a tanning bed in the past year, and that tanning runs in families — 65.3 percent of indoor tanners reported that they had a family member who used a tanning bed, as opposed to only 27.6 percent of non-tanners who reported this. In addition to the importance of family, the survey showed that nearly all indoor tanners have friends who tan.
In addition to providing the media with new data on indoor tanning, we are providing the public with valuable tips at www.MelanomaMonday.org. The site includes an interactive calendar offering 31 Ways to Prevent and Detect Melanoma, along with a free body mole map to help patients track their moles and a link to find free skin cancer screenings in their area.
Those screenings are conducted by members like you, and thanks to your dedication we’ve screened more than 2.1 million people and detected more than 206,800 suspicious lesions, including more than 23,500 suspected melanomas, since the program began in 1985. Would you like to join the more than 2,000 members who conduct screenings each year? Visit www.aad.org/member-tools-and-benefits/volunteer-opportunities/skin-cancer-screening-program, where you can order your free screening kit, which includes the screening forms, an easy-to-use guideline book, skin cancer public education handouts, AAD SkinCancerNet bookmarks, and posters.
Our awareness efforts also include the creation of public service announcements. Our most recent PSAs, created as part of the Academy’s Skin Cancer Reduction: Intervention Plan for Tomorrow, or SCRIPT Plan, related the story of Jaime Regen Rea and her family. Jaime was diagnosed with melanoma in her early 20s and died just weeks before her 30th birthday. The Dangers of Tanning campaign that told her story has been featured in more than $12 million worth of donated advertising to date.
You can help us increase awareness of the importance of preventing and detecting skin cancer by contributing to the Sustaining Fund and designating your contribution to skin cancer prevention/public awareness. Visit www.AADdevelopment.org/SustainingFund.html to learn more and donate. [pagebreak]
While we’re busy raising public awareness of the dangers of skin cancer, we’ve also been working in many states and at the federal level to promote the passage of legislation and regulation to limit the access of minors to indoor tanning. We participated in a congressional briefing May 3 to promote the federal Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act, which calls on the FDA to re-examine the classification of indoor tanning beds and offer more stringent controls on their use. During the most recent legislative sessions, we’ve supported bills in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.
We’re also working to ensure that patients receive care from their dermatologists that is based on the latest science. In March the Academy’s Board of Directors approved an updated guideline of care for the management of primary cutaneous melanoma. Guidelines help ensure that dermatologists are aware of the latest science and communicate the seriousness of the conditions we treat to payers, including the government. The updated melanoma guideline discusses biopsy techniques for use on lesions that are clinically suspicious for melanoma, offers recommendations for the histopathologic interpretation of cutaneous melanoma, and includes recommendations for the use of laboratory and imaging tests in the initial workup of patients newly diagnosed with melanoma and for follow-up of asymptomatic patients.
You can review the updated guideline at www.aad.org/education-and-quality-care/clinical-guidelines. Thank you to the dedicated work group of dermatologists who developed the guideline, including work group co-chairs Allan Halpern, M.D., and Timothy Johnson, M.D.
May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, but rest assured — the Academy’s efforts to keep both members and the public informed are ongoing.