PR CONTACT Rhonda Sparks
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – publish before May 5, 2008

The American Academy of Dermatology, as in previous years, has designated the month of May as Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month with the first Monday in May (May 5) as “Melanoma Monday”. With the advent of summer, May is the appropriate time to bring public awareness to skin cancer since most are attributable to overexposure to the UV radiation of the sun. Unfortunately, admonitions to avoid sunburns and to wear sunscreen and protective clothing often fall on deaf ears.
Recent reports tell us that cancer, in general is on the decline, however this is not the case with melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer. Since the early 1970’s, the incidence rate of melanoma has increased significantly, on average 4% per year from 5.7 per 100,000 in 1973 to 13.8 in 1996. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reported that in 1996 there were over 800,000 cases a year of basal cell or squamous cell cancers and about 38,000 new cases of melanoma. In 1999 the ACS reported approximately 1 million cases a year of basal cell or squamous cell cancers and 44,200 new cases of melanoma. And in 2000, the American Cancer Society estimated approximately 1.3 million cases a year of basal cell or squamous cell cancers while the number of melanoma cases expected to be diagnosed was 47,700. An estimated 9,430 deaths in 2001, 7,300 from malignant melanoma and 2,130 from other skin cancers, occurred.
Melanoma accounts for about 3% of skin cancer cases, but it causes most skin cancer deaths. The number of new cases of melanoma in the United States is on the rise. The ACS estimates that in 2008 there will be 62,480 new cases of melanoma in this country and about 8,420 people will die of this disease.
Melanoma tends to occur at a younger age than most cancers. Half of all melanomas are found in people under age 57. Adolescents can have melanoma also. About 1 of every 30,000 girls aged 15 to 19 will develop melanoma. For boys of this age, the rate is about 1 of every 15,000.*
To quote the ACS “The sun’s ultraviolet rays are strongest during the midday hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m.); exposure at these times should be limited or avoided. When outdoors, cover as much skin as possible with a hat that shades the face, neck, and ears, and a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Sunscreen comes in various strengths, graded by the solar protection factor (SPF). It is recommended to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Also, because of the possible link between severe sunburns in childhood and greatly increased risk of melanoma in later life, children, in particular, should be protected from the sun.” Rhonda Sparks, a mother of four who lost her husband to melanoma states, “ironically, the hot spring and summer months tend to be when most of our skin is exposed to the sun such as during water play in the pool, lakes, or ocean.” Darren passed away at the young age of 32, just three days after the September 11th tragedy. This experience along with being left to raise their young boys on her own pushed her to begin manufacturing a product to help with over exposure to the sun and to help eliminate the need for excessive chemicals found in traditional sunscreen lotions. Her company, UV Skinz, manufactures UV protective swimshirt and accessories for the entire family. And in honor of May being Skin Cancer awareness month, UV Skinz is giving away 3000 FREE SWIM SHIRTS. You can visit their site at for more details.
The ACS states “early detection is critical. Recognition of changes in skin growths or the appearance of new growths is the best way to find early skin cancer. Adults should practice skin self-examinations annually. Suspicious lesions should be evaluated promptly by a physician. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers often take the form of a pale, wax-like, pearly nodule, or a red, scaly, sharply outlined patch. A sudden or progressive change in a mole’s appearance should be checked by a physician. Melanomas often start as small, mole-like growths that increase in size and change color. A simple ABCD rule outlines the warning signals of melanoma: A is for asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half. B is for border irregularity. The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred. C is for color. The pigmentation is not uniform, with variable degrees of tan, brown, or black. D is for diameter greater than 6 millimeters. Any sudden or progressive increase in size should be of particular concern.”
If you are concerned about melanoma, see a dermatologist well qualified in their diagnosis and request an exam from “the top of the head to the soles of the feet and all body orifices in between.” Melanoma can also occur in mucous membranes (mucosal melanoma) and in the eyes (ocular melanoma). The ABCDs of melanoma can be obtained from your dermatologist or online here.
*Source: American Cancer Society’s ‘What are the key statistics for melanoma?’
Rev. 12-17-03 and Rev. 03-09-2006.