By Dirk Elston, MD, April 02, 2013
As you surely know, the Academy designates the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday to raise awareness of melanoma and other types of skin cancer. This year, as part of our SPOT Skin Cancer™ campaign, we’re asking people to SPOT Orange on Melanoma Monday®. I hope that you and your practice staff will encourage members of your community to join you in raising awareness of skin cancer by wearing orange on May 6. Be prepared to answer questions about skin cancer.
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
- Current estimates are that one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.
- Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the most common cancer among 25- to 29-year-olds.
Members are encouraged to share photos of themselves and their practice staffs participating in SPOT Orange. Share your photo with the Academy on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and include the #SPOTorange hashtag. Visit www.SpotSkinCancer.org/SPOTorange to upload your photo to the Academy’s website. [pagebreak]
The SPOT Skin Cancer campaign is an important part of the Academy’s skin cancer awareness efforts, as described in this month’s Dermatology World. It builds upon the Academy’s long history of helping to educate the public about sun-safe behavior and the value of seeing a board-certified dermatologist for the evaluation of suspicious skin lesions.
One of the reasons our skin cancer awareness efforts have been successful for so long is the ongoing popularity of and participation in our free skin cancer screenings. Thanks to your dedication we’ve conducted more than 2.3 million free skin cancer screenings and detected nearly 228,000 suspicious lesions, including more than 25,000 melanomas, since the program began in 1985. Would you like to join the more than 2,500 members who conduct screenings each year? Visit www.aad.org/member-tools-and-benefits/volunteer-and-mentor-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, and posters.
While a dermatologist can help patients detect suspicious lesions, we can also help teach members of the public to become their own first line of defense against skin cancer. There is emerging evidence that self and physician skin examinations may result in reduced melanoma thickness at the time of diagnosis and lead to improved survival. You can help spread the message that when caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable — and one way for patients to catch it early is to check their skin regularly and see a board-certified dermatologist if they notice a changing, itching, or bleeding skin lesion. [pagebreak]
We can also help ensure that our messages about melanoma are taken seriously by ensuring that all new melanomas are reported. Laws in every state require the reporting of new melanoma cases to a registry; figures from such registries are what determine the reported prevalence of different diseases, which helps to drive research funding decisions and media coverage. Make sure that whoever reads your skin biopsies reports melanomas to the state. Learn more about what’s required and how to report to your state registry at www.aad.org/melanomareporting; the page includes a drop-down menu that will link you directly to your state’s registry.
We’re working to increase awareness of the importance of better funding for research and better laws to regulate indoor tanning. On May 7, the day after Melanoma Monday, member volunteers will hold a skin cancer screening on Capitol Hill. The guest list for the event, which will also feature an educational briefing, includes baseball Hall of Fame member Johnny Bench, former Miss Maryland Brittany Cicala, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
In addition to the opportunities mentioned above, you can help us increase awareness of the importance of preventing and detecting skin cancer by making a tax-deductible contribution in support of SPOT Skin Cancer. Visit www.AADdevelopment.org/SustainingFund.html to learn more and donate.
The diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer is one of the most important things we do as dermatologists. Our unique skills in this area help to save thousands of lives and reduce the burden of disease through early detection and treatment. Take pride in being a skin cancer specialist — wear orange on Melanoma Monday, May 6. Spread the word.