Skin cancer largely is preventable; however, new cases of melanoma, the most deadly of skin cancers, continue to rise at a faster rate than the seven most common cancers.
"Any change in your skin, whether burned or slightly tanned, is a sign of ultraviolet radiation damage," said Drusilla Hufford, director of EPA's Stratospheric Protection Division and council co-chair. "The good news is you can protect yourself and your family members from too much sun, the main cause of skin cancer, by taking simple steps like putting on sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and a t-shirt."
EPA's SunWise Program recognizes the important role parents play in protecting their children from too much sun. Sunburns in childhood are associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma. EPA encourages schools to participate by pledging to incorporate sun safety into their May activities. Participating classrooms will receive a Don't Fry Day poster and a classroom set of sun safety stickers. In addition, each classroom will be entered into a drawing for a SunWise Classroom Prize Pack – a set of UV-sensitive SunWise bracelets, a real-time UV monitor, and other sun safety resources.
"Many people believe skin cancer occurs after a lifetime of exposure, and yet, melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young adults 15-29 years of age," said Dr. Henry Lim, council co-chair. "In the last 30 years, the number of women under age 40 diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma has more than doubled while the squamous cell carcinoma rate has also increased significantly."
EPA recommends some simple ways to stay safe in the sun. Remember to plan activities away from the midday sun and follow these guidelines:
- Slip on a shirt.
- Slop on sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher).
- Slap on a hat.
- Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around them from ultraviolet light.
Skin cancer from UV radiation is the most common of all cancers in the United States. More people will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined. UV radiation is a carcinogen whether it comes from the sun or an artificial light source.
Skin cancer, including melanoma, affects all skin types and colors. Skin cancer often is detected in people with darker skin after it is too late, so EPA stresses that it is important that people of color are safe in the sun and see a doctor if they notice any changes with their skin.
As part of the campaign, EPA also is targeting the 10 states with the highest number of new melanoma cases by releasing state-specific skin cancer fact sheets for Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington. Additionally, Salt Lake County, Utah, will become a SunWise Community, the newest member of a national program of eight communities that encourage sun safety on the part of their citizens.