Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer

The U.S. Surgeon General has issued a “Call to Action” to prevent skin cancer.  This means that skin cancer has been labeled a Major Public Health problem and steps need to be taken to prevent it.

According to the Surgeon General’s Report, “skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and most cases are preventable.” There are several different types of skin cancer.  All types combined, nearly 5 million people are treated for the disease each year.  Costs for treatment are an estimated $8 billion per year.  Even those who do not lose their lives from the disease can suffer disfiguring scars.

Since the majority of cases are preventable, you would think people would take steps to prevent it.  The message has either not been communicated effectively or not been taken seriously.  People continue to lay in the sun or tanning beds to tan, regardless of warnings and known consequences. Women may experience social pressure to tan and have tanned skin, according to the Surgeon General.  Many women are not even aware that the World Health Organization classified tanning devices as a Class 1 human carcinogen.  Many women who do know that will still expose themselves because of the pressure to look a certain way.

5 Goals have been established in the Call to Action report:

Goal 1: Increase Opportunities for Sun Protection in Outdoor Settings – more shade in parks, outdoor work areas, and schools;

Goal 2: Provide Individuals with the Information They Need to Make Informed, Healthy Choices About UV Exposure – skin cancer education in schools, develop effective messages, and partner with healthcare providers;

Goal 3: Promote Policies that Advance the National Goal of Preventing Skin Cancer – support sun protection in school policies, build sun protection into work policies;

Goal 4: Reduce Harms from Indoor Tanning – monitor attitudes and beliefs about tanning beds, discourage indoor tanning for youth;

Goal 5: Strengthen Research, Surveillance, Monitoring, and Evaluation Related to Skin Cancer Prevention – enhance education about skin cancer, evaluate the effect of interventions, build on behavioral research.

Education from an early age is the key to lowering the skin cancer statistics.  Kids can build it into their daily lives.  Hopefully, someday the “norm” will be applying sunscreen to our children every day and they will grow up to be adults who responsibly prevent skin cancer.  Until then, we are all responsible for spreading the word about the seriousness of the ever-increasing occurrence of skin cancers in the United States.

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